THE FLATS – Director of the Total Person Program and sports dietitian, Leah Thomas has been chosen by her peers as the Atlantic Coast Conference representative for the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA). Her experiences in the field and relationship with the conference office were highly valued by her peers in selecting her to be the league representative.
The CPSDA recently identified one sports dietitian representative from each of the Power 5 conferences in order to assist sports dietitians across conferences in speaking with one voice. The intent is to keep sports dietitians at the cutting edge of performance nutrition advocacy for the benefit of the student-athletes within the NCAA, as well as to disseminate information within their respective conferences. The role will involve participation in regularly scheduled conference calls with the committee, particularly when NCAA legislation relating to nutrition are being evaluated, and crafting a stance that dietitians in the collegiate settings can use to educate Athletic Directors and University Presidents, whom make the final decisions.
“I am honored that my ACC peers selected me for this, and am excited to represent both the ACC and Georgia Tech on this newly created five-person committee,” commented Thomas. “My goal is to be the best advocate for our student-athletes when it comes to NCAA legislation related to caring for their nutritional needs.”
The Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA) represents the vast majority of advanced practice registered dietitians in the United States who work full-time with athletes in colleges, professional sports, Olympic training centers, the U.S. Military and in law enforcement.
The profession is experiencing tremendous and rapid growth at the Power 5 conference level, with 59 of the 65 institutions now employing at least one full-time sports dietitian. Sports dietitians are educated on food and supplement safety to decrease the rate of positive drug tests among student-athletes, are experts in educating athletes on fueling for performance and recovery, and are competent in the area of food and supplement procurement and budgetary management. These topics are all heavily tied to NCAA bylaws, allowing for sports dietitians to greatly assist with an institution’s care and development of student-athletes, their health and well-being, as well as maintaining institutional compliance.
Thomas has served as the director of the Total Person Program and sports dietitian since 2008, after joining the Georgia Tech Athletic Association in 2003 as the director of nutrition. Thomas supervises Georgia Tech’s Total Person Program, which provides student-athletes with enrichment sessions, community service projects, leadership development, counseling services, physiology testing and sports nutrition. She also serves as the advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Board.
As the sports nutritionist, she conducts nutrition counseling, develops meal plans for optimal health and performance, assists with pre and post-game meal planning, and maintains the sports nutrition center, housed within the Edge Building. Additionally, she collaborates heavily with both sports medicine and strength & conditioning to provide nutrition support in conjunction with both of those areas.
In addition to her work at Georgia Tech, Leah has authored a chapter in the fourth edition of Sports Nutrition: A Guide for the Professional Working with Active People. She is a former student-athlete as a member of the cross country & track teams at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and was a 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier.