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Training table is here

Jan 19, 2010, 12:08 PM EST

The Notre Dame athletic department announced its first training table program for the football team today, a quick turnaround from Jack Swarbrick’s initial discussion about the implementation of specialty meals for athletes back in December.

According to an official release, the training table is the first of two pilot programs the athletic department will roll out, the second beginning later this semester. Right now, the program is a specialized dinner menu Monday through Friday for football players designed by sports nutritionist Erika Whitman, who will also oversee the meals. As the program continues, athletes from other sports programs will be included.

This is the first initiative by Mike Karwoski, who after 17 years working in NCAA compliance at Notre Dame has transitioned to the newly created Athletes Performance Program, which focuses on the development and implementation of comprehensive programs designed to help Notre Dame student-athletes achieve optimal results.

I’m really impressed with the turnaround time on training table, and while the system isn’t totally in place, getting a dinner implemented Monday to Friday during the off-season football workouts was essential, and it’ll allow the team to refuel their bodies with proper meals, something you might not always find at North or South Dining Halls.

I’m intrigued by the new Athletes Performance Program, and I think its another great initiative set-up under the guidance of athletic director Jack Swarbrick. While most of us think its common sense to do things like eat properly while training, I think back to my years in college and realize I had next to no clue about things that were good for me and things that weren’t. For years, Notre Dame was way behind the curve with training facilities. While the university did the heavy lifting needed to get world-class training facilities, not following that up with proper nutrition was misguided. Most people don’t drop 200 grand on a Ferrari only to fill it up with low-grade gasoline. With this new meal plan and performance program, it’s clear that the Irish are intent on fixing both the macro and micro issues.

  1. Regular Guy - Jan 19, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    This is a lot of crap. There’s nothing wrong with the food at the North and South dining halls and there is absolutely no reason athletes (or any other students) can’t get excellent nutrition there. Notre Dame has always prided itself on having its athletes (even all-American football jocks) live, study, and play with other “regular” students. There are no “jock” dorms at Notre Dame and there is no “athlete” curriculum. Are we moving away from that now? I hope not. I don’t want the school I love to be just another Florida or USC or Michigan — a mediocre Walmart school with semi-pro sports teams.

  2. irishfanintx - Jan 19, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    This is good news to those who read the earlier article concerning the weight loss that ND footplayers experienced this year during the season. Nutrition is a very important part of any athletic endeavor. As Mr. Arnold points out even though it is common sense to eat properly while training,a lot of us have no clue what is good for us or not. I do not see this in any way as moving away from the ND philosophy of integrating the student athlete with “regular” students nor do I see this as a threat to the curriculum. I do see this as a proactive step to meet the nutritional needs of the student athlete for optimum performance while maintaining a strenuous work out schedule.

  3. JRC - Jan 19, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    Agree. Anybody who thinks proper nutrition isn’t important has never run out of gas in the 4th quarter. I played H.S and College ball and srill remember Coach telling us after practice to run down to the local taco stand and “fuel” up.
    In today’s world of high stakes college football everything is considered, and proper nutrition is essential.
    Anyone who thinks that the nutrition of a football player and a regular student is the same has never strapped it on.

  4. Brandon Organ - Jan 19, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    Dude every top school in the country has a training table. This is something that ND has needed for years. Shut up.

  5. RickSwish - Jan 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Wow. Tangentially blaming poor football performance to not eating the right food in 2010. Wow. This isn’t the junction boys fellas. If anyone here thinks this will impact points scored and turnovers forced on the field this year, you are just kidding yourself.

  6. Tedlinko - Jan 20, 2010 at 2:15 AM

    Regular Guy,
    Your comment is misguided and frankly a bit silly. Providing a training table for for athletes isn’t some kind of special elitist perk. It is a recognition that athletes, who put in hours of practice and training every week have different nutritional needs than regular students.
    Last time I checked, most regular students aren’t involved in 3 hour football practices 5 days a week, weight training and other conditioning regimens, and then perform for 4 hours every Saturday. To perform at that level — and to meet the expectations placed on them by millions of fans — these athletes need proper nutrition. As others have said, ND has been way behind the curve on this for years. It’s about time they caught up.

  7. Regular Guy - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    B.O.: Shutup? Not likely. I think 40+ years of paying tuition, alumni dues, and recently both at the same time give me the right to speak my mind on Notre Dame, Dude.
    Tedlinko: Silly? No. It’s about what kind of school ND wants to be. I agree that athletes need “proper nutrition,” I just think they can get it like other students by making good choices in the food line at the dining halls. I’ve eaten there thousands of times (most recently just a few months ago) and the food is both plentiful and nutritious. If I’m wrong and segregating our athletes from other students is what ND needs to do to compete with the Floridas and the USCs, then we should go our own way and only schedule schools that, like us, have athletes who are also full members of the student body.
    RickSwish: I guess you just don’t get it: Don’t you see that we won all those National Titles and had all those Heisman winners and All-Americans under Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz, and then we dropped the training table and look what happened to us. What’s that you say? We didn’t have a training table then either? Hmm. Well, maybe you should just shutup like B.O says.

  8. ugetwutuask4 - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Regular Guy you need a name change to Ir-regular Guy. Let us help usher you into the 21st century “Mr.Student Body”, where everybody wants to win and nobody wants to find their prestigiouse university losing to teams like NAVY twice (no disrespect), Stanford, Boston College even though we didn’t lose to them this year, Syracuse, or even Army and Air Force either for that matter! I’m sure if you would have been in the dining hall eating with the jocks at their table you were probably the guy who stood up and asked “how could the defense let Navy run all over us like that?” If you think weight loss of an average of 13lbs per man doesn’t have an affect on the players performance or them having a higher risk of injury due to this weight loss I don’t believe you applied yourself enough during your time spent studying at ND! Hey RickSwish your the same dude who thinks ND should catch up with the times and stop living off our past accomplishments right? Well guess what wait until you and whatever team you rhoot for face Brian Kelly’s Fight’n Irish Squad. Sit down and pay attention if you can afford to because you just might learn a thing or two.
    WE ARE ND!!!

  9. ugetwutuask4 - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    If that’s the case than why do professional atheletes hire their own personal dietition’s? Why not just eat what the wife cooked or go to the salad bar EINSTEIN?

  10. Jim - Jan 20, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    I’m an ND grad (’90) and ate many meals at the South Dining Hall. I might be mistaken but I believe there was a training table during my years at ND. I knew some players, and remember them referring to “training table” meals. While I agree there is every opportunity to find nutritious food at the dining halls, as a “regular” student you have much more flexibility in your schedule that allows you to plan your meals. (And let’s be honest here – the typical student is happy to subsist on cheeseburgers and frosted flakes and not focus on making smart nutritional choices at every meal.)
    Given the rigid schedules these players have I don’t begrudge them the right to have structured menus that allow them to eat properly.

  11. agapn9 - Jan 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Professional football teams were recommending special diets in the 1960’s – this isn’t some new fancy program. I had a copy of an NFL book in 1967 that recommended certain selections of foods.
    Now the science and understanding of nutrition has moved forward quite a bit since then but the culture has actually moved backward -so there is a divide – and regular guy wants to stay with the culture and coach Kelly wants to go with the science and win.
    Not a problem except regular guy thinks he has the right to criticize coach Kelly – but I don’t remember coach Kelly attacking him – where’s the fairness in that.

  12. Regular Guy - Jan 20, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    Jim: I appreciate your comment, but being against a separate “training table” for athletes is not the same a being against proper nutrition for athletes. But do we need to accomplish proper nutrition for athletes at ND by separating them from their fellow students? In the ND dining halls, you can eat as much as you want of a wide variety of foods and nutritional counseling is already available on campus and could easily become a part of Coach Kelly’s program. How’s a segregated training table going to improve on that? Even if it does in some marginal way, is it worth the downside? One of the things we love about our school is that, when the students cheer for their team, they’re cheering for their friends — their classmates, their hall mates, the guys they study with, pray with, shoot baskets with, and eat meals with. Changing that, even marginally, would be a loss for the school and the students as a whole, but especially for the athletes.

  13. Jake - Jan 20, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Having a training table, as I understand it, involves one meal per day.
    How this is going to wreck the interaction with other students is somewhat a mystery to me.
    As you say they still have their time with hall mates, classroom exchange, “shooting hoops” and prayer times. It’s one meal!
    If that translates into beating S.C, Boston College or the service academy’s, most students and fans will take the trade off.
    Think of that one meal as part of the training protocol as that really is what it is.
    It’s not going to destroy Notre Dame as we know it.

  14. Irish Faithful - Jan 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Yeah that’s what is going to ruin the ND experience, affording student-athletes the opportunity to eat nutritious meals. You have got to be kidding me, really.
    I have but one question, is “Regular Guy” related to, in any way, RobertG?
    I’ll give you the same advice I gave BobbyG, get back on the meds and switch to decaf.

  15. Regular Guy - Jan 20, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Jake,
    I don’t think that a single training table meal each day is “going to destroy Notre Dame as we know it.” But I also don’t think (unlike some of the posters here) that that single meal “translates into beating S.C, Boston College or the service academies.” I do think there’s already too much separation between the typical Notre Dame student and the school’s athletes, especially the football players. Don’t think so? Just take a walk down to the Gug and try using the facilities. Yeah, a training table itself isn’t a big deal, but it is yet another step in the direction of a fundamental change at ND, a change that I hope I never see, no matter what the wins and losses.

  16. TLNDMA - Jan 20, 2010 at 9:28 PM

    Seems to me, from all I’ve read on this issue, that Jack Swarbrick recognizes your concerns. He wants athletes at ND to blend in with the rest of the student body, as much as possible. It seems he has a genuine concern that the football teams schedule, calls for this change in one meal a day. I don’t think he wants to change the culture of the student athlete at ND. I do understand your concern and I think Swarbrick does also.

  17. Regular Guy - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:09 PM

    TLNDMA: Well, if we’ve got to have a training table, I hope it’s a great success. Go Irish.

  18. TLNDMA - Jan 20, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    226 days, Go Irish !

  19. richard j. martiny - Jan 21, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    In the 60’s ND had a training table for all athletes. This was before the day of the major conderns about nutrition, or they weren’t readily apparent. The training table was available to those athletes in season. It was open later to accomodate those whose practices ran late. It consisted of one of the serving lines in the South Dining Hall. There was no special menu, but the athletes could get as much food as they wanted (i.e. much more than a normal serving). In 1964, when Parseghian(sp?) started summer camp he made several changes. First he moved the team from Lyons Hall, where they had traditionally stayed, to the freshman quad, probably Zahm or Cavanaugh. Then, he moved the meals to the North Dining Hall, using one of the rooms ( I assume it still has the same configuration with 3 or 4 lines in the building serving separate rooms, unlike the older facility that had 2 huge halls.) The football team continued to use that arrangement throughout the season. The food wasn’t “special”, you just got more of it. Also, the team went from dinner right into meetings that lasted until about 8 Pm, with the team broken down into position groups through out the room.

  20. Mike - Jan 21, 2010 at 5:20 PM

    I don’t know about regular guy, but I do want a school that can compete with teams like Florida, USC, and Michigan

  21. tjak - Jan 21, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    Regular Guy, I must confess to only eating in those dining halls in 1982 during an international student leadership conference, but dude give your head a shake. You are advocating not becoming programs that have been winning. We are not talking about lying to recruits, lowering admissions standards or any other real compromise of Notre Dame integrity. We are talking about giving our athletes an organized healthy regimen. If I am the parent of a recruit, I want to know that something like this is in place or I am sending my kid somewhere else.

  22. tjak - Jan 21, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    RickSwish, you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. Are you one of the over 40% of Americans who are obese? Come back when you have done your homework.

  23. tjak - Jan 21, 2010 at 11:49 PM

    Proper, organized focus dude, get life!

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