Alcohol and drug program informs coaches and athletes

Story by David Burish, Staff Writer

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The Center for Alcohol Studies and Education at UW-Eau Claire held three sections of Life of an Athlete, a program focused on improving lifestyles of athletes, on March 12.

John Underwood, the founder and director of the American Athletic Institute, was the keynote speaker for this program and emphasized the importance of an entire lifestyle focused on achievement.

“We have programs that affect lifestyle, not just pot and alcohol use,” Underwood said. “We do everything: sleep, nutrition, stress, even stuff about how technology has had a negative impact on focused people.”

Underwood has an athletic background since before his college years. He ran long-distance collegiately and coached or advised a multitude of athletes ranging from young children to 28 Olympians.

Through his experience, he founded the American Athletic Institute in response to athletes that he saw were not reaching their full potential. He said activities like smoking and drinking get in the way of their performance.

“I just saw (their performance) sinking, people who have no concern about what they do in their spare time,” Underwood said.

The programs on Tuesday were supported by CASE who received a grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association to help improve the university’s alcohol prevention program.

CASE Director Peggie O’Halloran said Underwood has a reputation of excellence. He has done a couple of presentations in the Eau Claire community and at the university previously. She said he has a way of presenting his information in a compelling fashion.

“The combination of his expertise is unique,” O’Halloran said. “People have enjoyed it and it’s information. Even with their own expertise on performance, that’s new for everybody.”

While the program had an emphasis on alcohol and drug prevention, Underwood said performance is not based solely on a couple of factors.

“You can’t talk about just one negative, dark topic by itself,” Underwood said. “You got to show people what optimal is and hope they head more in that direction.”

Underwood said things like sleep habits and focus on technology can severely affect the way people can achieve. He also emphasized the flexibility of his program. He said his expertise is in athletics but still can affect academics and other life goals.

Freshman Levi Strahm came to the event for one purpose: improvement.

“I saw the advertisements for the event and thought it would be important to go,” Strahm said. “(Underwood) knows what he’s doing so why not take advantage of it.”

While Strahm was not aware of CASE’s involvement with the program, he said that only increased his interest.

During his program, Underwood said this information is important mostly because of the advancements in technology.

“There are no more secrets in training,” Underwood said. “Everybody knows all the tricks and the things you are able to measure are incredible.”

The Life of an Athlete program has more information and project materials on its website, lifeofanathlete.us.

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