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Idaho State University Students SCORE

A one-of-a-kind nutrition program in ISU’s Division of Health Sciences is helping student-athletes eat smart and stay on top of their game.

scoreSCORESM—or Smart Cooking on the Run Every Day—provides individual nutrition counseling, team talks, cooking classes and grocery store tours for 300 Bengal athletes.

“It’s not a training table where student-athletes show up three times a day and we feed them. We are teaching them how to eat for a lifetime,” says SCORESM co-founder Linda Rankin, a dietetics professor and DHS associate dean.

Since the program’s inception in 2012, Rankin has incorporated a Moodle site—ISU’s online platform for teaching classes—with easy access to healthy recipes, nutrition fact sheets and shopping tips. “You can’t out train a poor diet,” she tells athletes.

Thanks to financial support from the United Dairymen of Idaho, the SCORESM Program has brought a part-time registered dietitian on board this year and purchased a portable kitchen for cooking demonstrations.

SCORESM dietitian Natalie Christensen earned her undergraduate dietetics degree from ISU in 2001 and completed her dietetics clinical internship in 2003. As a former ISU track and soccer athlete, she says good nutrition is the key to maintaining a competitive edge.

“I feel for the athletes,” says Christensen, who is booked solid with requests for nutrition counseling. “I remember going to practice hungry because I didn’t take the time to plan my day. I didn’t have enough fuel for my body.”

Christensen reminds athletes that without properly fueled muscles, they are at greater risk for injury. In recent weeks, she has created fueling schedules for the softball and soccer teams, provided healthy budget-friendly recipes and taken the softball team on a tour of a Pocatello grocery store.


Idaho Dairy Council registered dietitian, Lynnette Meek, works with SCORE students to make a healthy and delicious on-the-go smoothie.

“Natalie has been a great addition for the student-athletes at ISU. She is very knowledgeable about an athlete’s specific needs and eager to help each of us on an individual and team basis,” said softball player Vicky Galasso.

The mobile kitchen-equipped with a sink, cooktop and overhead mirrors to view the culinary action-can be packed into a minivan or SUV and taken directly to athletes. Cooking demonstrations will include topics, such as how to make smoothies, prepare and freeze meals in advance, quick-fix dinners and recipes for healthy snacks.

Rankin says she’s not aware of a sports nutrition partnership like SCORESM where a sports dietitian is housed within a dietetics program. This allows ISU dietetics interns and nutrition students to train directly with student-athletes, fueling their growing interest in sports nutrition. The dietetics program’s seven registered dietitians provide support and assistance to the students as well as the SCORESM dietitian.

DHS Vice Provost and Executive Dean Linda Hatzenbuehler is grateful to the United Dairymen of Idaho for its support of ISU dietetics and sports nutrition education for student-athletes.


Through the funding of Idaho’s dairy farm families, the SCORE program was able to purchase a mobile kitchen.

And coaches say the SCORESM Program is a playbook their athletes can live by long after they hang up their cleats.

“I know that the knowledge gained from this program will benefit my team not only while they are attending school at Idaho State but in life after they graduate,” said Julie Wright, head softball coach.

-By Chris Gabettas

The United Dairymen of Idaho give over 12,000 gallons of white, chocolate and strawberry milk to universities in Idaho to support the nutritional needs of Idaho’s athletes. The key to a strong, energy-filled workout is Fuel-Workout-Refuel-Repeat. Milk offers the perfect carb to protein ratio to help with muscle recovery to get athletes on to their next workout.