Master’s Student, Drew Jarmuz, Leads the Way for Client-focused Care in Sports Nutrition
June 30, 2022
“I want to be someone who can bridge the gap and take the whole sports performance system into account,” shares Drew Jarmuz, MS nutrition and dietetics ’22.
Jarmuz is a recent graduate of the master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics program at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP). A former collegiate baseball player with an entrepreneurial spirit, Jarmuz wanted to differentiate himself in his profession.
During his undergraduate years, he enrolled in a Nutrition Science program hoping to study sports nutrition and pursue a career that combined his knowledge and passion for athletics with nutrition science. However, he transferred to West Chester University to take a different path. “When I started school in 2015, sports nutrition as a field and degree program was in its infancy. I decided to pursue exercise science, since weightlifting was one of my passions. As I studied and continued to play baseball, coaches taught me more about strength and conditioning and this helped me so much in my athletic development and led me to start training athletes myself.”
Early in his education, Jarmuz recognized a need to build connections between the major pillars of athletics: performance, strength and conditioning, psychology and nutrition.
“In the sports world, I noticed that there are often people who are experts in one of these pillars, and that is great and necessary. Yet, peak performance requires bringing all of the pieces together. So, I pushed myself to become someone who could bring these pillars together and grow interdisciplinary skills and knowledge for the benefit of athletes and their teams.”
Jarmuz was a dedicated baseball player throughout his childhood and into his college years. Beginning in youth leagues and continuing through high school and college, he was appointed captain of his undergraduate baseball team at West Chester University, but an untimely injury during his senior year took him off the field.
“After I got injured, I saw a sports psychologist for support, and that really helped me a lot in that moment of my athletic career,” Jarmuz comments. “It opened me up to see a deeper level of athletics. There is so much that goes into making a great athlete that is under the surface. By creating a deeper connection with players, you can listen closely and let them know that you are there to help.”
Having recovered from his injury and completed his undergraduate degree, Jarmuz searched for his next academic steps, but his pursuit of a master’s degree was complicated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jarmuz had chosen to stay at West Chester University to pursue a Masters in Sports Psychology and to continue his baseball season, but the pandemic cut his season short. Having previously considered Drexel for a Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Jarmuz reached out to Beth Leonburg, MS, associate clinical professor and director of dietetics education at CNHP. Leonburg suggested that, given the pivot to remote learning, Jarmuz enroll in Drexel and complete both programs at once.
“It was a crazy idea,” Jarmuz reflects, “but I did it. With Professor Leonburg’s support, we made this plan work together.”
After graduating from Drexel this spring, Jarmuz will fly south to Florida where he has accepted a position as a sports nutritionist for the Tampa Bay Rays. In this role, Jarmuz will work with rookie players and athletes rehabbing from injuries – of all professional levels – to educate them on the interconnected nature of athletic performance through nutrition science.
If three degrees and a job with a professional baseball team weren’t enough, Jarmuz has also learned Spanish to best support many Spanish-speaking baseball players and gain a deeper understanding and cultural sensitivity when working with athletes from Latin America and the Caribbean.
“When I was a player myself, I met many people who spoke Spanish as a first language. This made me think about how useful it would be to be able to communicate directly with players, and I challenged myself to learn the language so I could be there for them,” Jarmuz shares. “I could have a translator, of course, but nutrition can be a very personal topic and I wanted players to feel comfortable with me, and that comfort often comes from privacy and one-on-one conversations. I signed up for online tutoring and, two years later, I was able to complete half of my interview to work with the Tampa Bay Rays in Spanish.”
As a part of his job duties, Jarmuz will travel to the Dominican Republic to work with players in the Rays’ Dominican Republic academy who have been tapped to play for the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Coming up as an athlete is a big transition, especially for these rookie players who are often 16 or 17 years old. Being able to speak to them in Spanish about their nutrition will help so much in forming connections and supporting them early in their career. We are still learning about Latin American foods in the American nutrition science classroom, and I really look forward to using my skills to work with them the best I can.”
Reflecting on his academic journey, Jarmuz says that he never could have predicted that he would gain such a robust and unique understanding of baseball, athletics and sports nutrition. His passion began with his own love of the sport and the results he experienced first-hand when he began to incorporate nutrition goals and strategies as a baseball player in high school.
“What really got me interested in this field was seeing my own boost in performance. I did better in baseball, I was more focused in class and I had sustained energy throughout the day. It really was the tide that raised all boats.”
Written by Izzy López