The slightest advantage in professional sports can often mean the difference between victory and defeat. To make sure their athletes are eating and drinking to perform at their best, the Philadelphia Flyers pro hockey team and Philadelphia Union pro soccer squad depend on dietitian Nyree Dardarian, MS ʻ06, RD, and her team of colleagues and student interns at Drexelʼs Center for Nutrition & Performance. Students get to interact with players, coaches and staff, and play a key role in everything from menu planning to nutrition profiling.
“The average athlete is 18-26 years old,” Dardarian says. “They relate to the students. When it comes to talking about hot nutrition topics, athletes, at times, respond better when students present information. Itʼs a great opportunity for our students to find the best way to engage with their clients.”
DRAGON GELS ENERGIZE ATHLETES
Pro teams began reaching out to Dardarian as the Center—a collaboration between Drexel Athletics and the Department of Nutrition Sciences—established a reputation for innovative and creative solutions for Drexel athletes. One of those solutions is Dragon Gels, a carbohydrate-rich sports gel developed by Dardarian and her team while they were counseling athletes on Drexelʼs soccer team. The 1.5-ounce gummy squares are still made in Drexelʼs metabolic lab kitchen.
Dragon Gels are now fueling athletes on the Flyers, Union and US Squash team, in addition to the Drexel Dragons.
WANTED: PASSIONATE PEOPLE
After starting her career as a hospital nutritionist, Dardarian has definitely found her niche at Drexel, teaching and creating major league opportunities for students.
“I use my career to connect people—students, athletes and colleagues—with experiences that excite them and provide hands-on learning,” she says. “Iʼm a people connector. I find I am most excited when I am surrounded by people who want to make a difference, big or small, that they feel passionately about.”