Dynamic Dietitians, Professional Development | Mar 29 2018

Dynamic Sports Dietitian, Angela Bruzina, MS, CPT

Angela Bruzina, MS, CPT

We’re introducing you to Dynamic Dietitians nationwide. You’ll be amazed at all the places you can find a dietitian, and remember, we can staff in any setting, too!

It’s no secret that Angela Bruzina, MS, CPT is dynamic. After working for two years as a Graduate Assistant with the University of Cincinnati Athletic Department, Angela scored herself a full-time position with the school, overseeing the entire athletic department part time and teaching nutrition courses part time. And she hasn’t even taken the RD exam yet!

Angela worked for the athletic department while pursuing her Master’s degree in Nutrition. She made such an impact that the program found the budget to create a staff position specifically for Angela.

“Sports dietetics is really an up-and-coming field,” Angela said. “The bigger schools in the power five conferences may have a full-time dietitian, but those athletes in smaller programs still need someone to look to for nutrition information.”

Lucky for Angela, the University of Cincinnati recognized that need.

The path to sports nutrition

Sports nutrition can really fall into an even larger category of “performance nutrition.” Angela has always been an athlete, but she spent several years as a musical performer, too. Before starting her Master’s program, Angela toured the country for a few years as an opera singer and pianist.

It was within this career path that Angela recognized the sacrifices that performers — whether athletic or musical — have to make for their craft. And it’s the understanding of those sacrifices that drove her to work with athletes.

“You have to be disciplined and you have to be consistent to get better at your sport,” Angela said.

As a Registered Dietitian, if you can connect with people on any level, that’s what makes you great.

“I started working with athletes and found that I could connect with them really well. I was like, ‘OK, this is where I’m supposed to be.’”

What will she do

Angela will be the only dietitian for the entire athletic program at the University of Cincinnati, so she’ll oversee 15 different men’s and women’s sports.

During a typical day Angela may make referrals for vitamin deficiencies or soft tissue injuries, or she’ll develop recovery meal plans, or work in the kitchen developing pre and post-game menus.

She also manages a grab-n-go food station for the athletes, so she’ll mange the budget, order products, schedule volunteers to work the station and run a promotion called “Try Something Tuesday,” where free samples of cool new products are available.

Angela isn’t always on the field or in the gym either. She often takes athletes into the food lab on campus so she can teach them kitchen skills.

“I’m only with them for four years, so I want to leave them with the knowledge and tools they need to be healthy after graduation,” Angela said.

For the athletes that may not go on to play professionally, these tools are critical.

“We’ve talked about doing an exit program to teach them how to eat as a non-athlete. Once they’re not working out 3 hours per day, their nutrition needs will change” Angela said.

Making an impact

Even when a collegiate athletic program does have a dietitian on staff, it takes time to get the coaches, the staff and even the athletes adjusted to the fact that there is someone there trained to answer nutrition-specific questions.

“We had an athlete who went home over the summer and wasn’t seeing a dietitian, but was seeing a trainer,” Angela said. “And when she came back she had lost a significant amount of weight over a short amount of time.”

No matter what area of dietetics you’re in, this is always a red flag.

Angela said a lot of the athletes, including this girl, often come to her because they feel they can tell her things they may not tell someone else.

“A lot of it was anxiety based for her,” Angela said. “But the biggest point for her is that the education from a dietitian is what helped her gain back the weight and confidence she had lost.”

Angela regular receives text messages from this athlete and others telling her how much stronger they feel, how much better they feel on the field or on the court, and how they couldn’t have done it without her support. Just the kind of motivation a dietitian lives for!

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