WASHINGTON — A longtime sports dietician will be making his way to Athens this week to meet with head football coach Frank Solich.
Dave Ellis heads the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association and has provided nutritional advice for more than 30 years. During his career, he has worked with a number of college football programs as well as the four major professional sports leagues and the U.S. Olympic team.
Ellis first worked with Solich at Nebraska in 1999. The Cornhuskers went 12-1 that season under Solich’s leadership. Ellis worked with all Ohio varsity teams in 2005, according to his website. That year marked Solich’s first season with the Bobcats.
Ellis spoke at a briefing for congressional staff members on Capitol Hill Wednesday. He highlighted his athletic nutrition plan, “Fueling Tactics,” which features a diet filled with fresh produce, fiber-rich starches and lean protein.
After the hearing, Ellis said he would travel to Athens this week to visit “Frank.” Coaches are not allowed to instruct their players during June, but the dietician might talk with Solich about plans to reduce recovery time following workouts by implementing the “fueling” plan.
Ellis’ system involves setting up three food tables for players before games. Each table has food fulfilling one part of his nutritional plan, and players are encouraged to take a selection from each one.
One part of Ellis’ job is differentiating between legal dietary supplements and banned substances, such as anabolic steroids.
“We’re always trying to watch the labels … but we’ve got to watch out for the ones that metabolize into banned substances, too,” he said.
Conveying the importance of healthy eating and dietary supplements is easier done sooner in an athlete’s career rather than later, Ellis said.
“There are a lot of distractions the higher up you go,” he said.
Also speaking at the briefing was NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus. He outlined his I Play Clean campaign, which aims to educate young athletes about the dangers and myths of steroids.
“The plain truth is, if you use steroids for a prolonged period of time, you’ll probably be a heart patient, die early or both,” Butkus said.
Michael Stainbrook is interning with the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire in Washington.