KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As the last foot crosses the line you can see the fog from the winded players fill the crisp January morning air. A whistle blows in the distance and the fog begins to assemble together, creating a cloud-like fog, in a section of Blaine Stadium.
Allison Maurer looked down at her notes and back to the group of teenage boys standing breathlessly in front of her gave them a new set of instructions and steps aside. Interjecting only for correction and light-hearted quips.
Twenty years ago she’d never have imagined she’d spend her mornings like this.
Allison Maurer stepped on campus at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2004 serving as a strength and conditioning coach. Ironically the then-recent college graduate knew very little about weight lifting.
“I thought I was going to go straight into nutrition (after college) and work in Sports Nutrition which didn’t really exist back then,” Maurer explained. “It was kind of one of those things that they were like that’s really great that you want to sports nutrition but this is actually what we need. So I totally didn’t know anything about lifting weights and now I absolutely love it.”
UC Boulder trained Maurer and taught proper techniques and practices. She took her test to get certified in Strength and Conditioning.
Sports Nutrition has skyrocketed in the years that follow with every Power Five University and Professional Sports Teams having not only a Sports Nutritionist on staff but a Sports Nutrition department. Maurer would become the head of such a department first at the University of Tennessee and now the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“With the Pittsburgh Pirates, I’m the director of Sports Nutrition and Fueling,” Maurer said. “I oversee the Sports Nutrition from the Major League Team to everyone down in the Dominican Facilities.
Her job with the Pittsburgh Franchise has her expertise in sports nutrition used in a multitude of ways. Players who’ve made it to the MLB typically just need “fine-tuning” so Maurer educates them on supplements, how to make the most out of the calories they eat, and even how to grocery shop with fueling in mind. It’s a stark contrast from the sixteen-year-old players she works with in the Dominican who Maruer said largely don’t have that base knowledge of sports nutrition and how it can impact your game.
“I’ll travel with the ML team in normal years, and then I’ll travel to all the affiliates throughout the season and meet with players if they’re losing weight, gaining weight throughout the season if they’ve been sick, or just have general questions stuff like that,” she said. “It’s pretty busy.”
Maurer’s season starts in Mid-February at Spring Training and lasts that of the Pittsburgh Pirates. During the off-season, she’s able to call Knoxville, Tennessee homebase.
It’d be hard to classify Allison as “off” though.
For the last two of her “off” seasons Maurer has aided Knoxville Catholic’s Football program in strength and conditioning – working alongside Coach Robert Ayers to develop the offseason program.
“I love the teaching aspect,” she stated. “Watching the players learn things, watching their bodies change, watching them be more explosive, be faster. Growing and developing as young men and it’s just really cool to partner that with the food aspect and get them to change some of their eating habits and then get them to work really hard in the weight room to see some of the ways they can change is incredible.”
Maurer had their respect the minute she walked onto the field, in large part, because she already knew many from a Sports Nutrition Class at Knoxville Catholic she taught at Knoxville Catholic.
“Coming into the weight room they already trusted me as a teacher, as a person and so they know from my experiences from professional sports, collegiate sports and how that can carry over,” she recalled. “They have tons of questions and they love to learn. They respect me just as much as they do the male coaches.”
While Maurer is volunteering in building the strength and conditioning program she’s also happy to volunteer her knowledge in Sports Nutrition to the student-athletes who ask. At the high school level, it’s about who’s taking what and what’s going to get an athlete bigger stronger, and faster the quickest. Maurer educates them on different dangers of things or what makes sense for their individual goals always highlighting a food first approach.
“They love the fact that they can use me as a resource on multiple levels,” she said. “I think the biggest thing I can impact here is their thought process in their use of supplements. They’re really latched onto that with my experience in the professional realm.”
It’s full circle really, volunteering her time now to do what she had to do to get her foot in the door in Sports Nutrition. A once necessity of the job turned into one of her passions.