‘Coolers’ program stops by St. John

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013



EDGARD – Chocolate milk might not be the first thing one thinks of when considering healthy choices. But many local athletes can set the record straight on that – and, indeed, were asked to do just that on Tuesday.

West St. John and East St. John were selected as two of the three Louisiana high schools to participate in the filming of a video for the “Coolers for Coaches” program, which is sponsored by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association. A video crew visited the campuses of both high schools last Tuesday and a handful of athletes spoke on camera about the benefits of the drink.

“Coolers for Coaches” provides refrigeration equipment free of charge for the schools for coaches to provide chocolate milk to their athletes after a workout. The school is responsible for providing the milk.

“Chocolate milk has tremendous nutritional benefits, helping athletes with recovery and helping them rebuild muscles,” said Debbie Rutherford, Manager of School Heath and Wellness with the SUDIA.

“(Coolers for Coaches) is a way for coaches to provide cold, nutritious and delicious milk after a workout, practice or game.”

Trey Nathan, a defensive back on the Rams’ football team, was one of the West St. John athletes featured on the video.

“(The cooler) has been there since my freshman year,” said Nathan, who will be a junior next fall.

“I thought there would be a lot more straight question and answer type stuff (on the video), but it was more of a conversation, real laid back. I thought I did okay.”

But Nathan isn’t likely to evolve into a camera seeker after this.

“No,” he said with a smile. “I’m not a media star.”

West St. John athletic director and football coach Robert Valdez enjoyed seeing his athletes on camera. He also said the program has paid dividends for the school.

“We’ve had our athletes drinking chocolate milk since I’ve been here. We encourage our kids to drink it to help them replenish and heal, especially after working in that summer heat.

“It’s something they can get on board with. It’s very tasty and healthy too. So that’s a good combination.

He also appreciated the exposure the filming garners for his school and program.

“I got a great deal of enjoyment from watching our kids have a chance to be on camera. They had a good time with it,” said Valdez. “As an athletic director, I feel like it’s our job to promote our school and highlight the positive things we have going on. So this was a no brainer for us.”

East St. John athletic director and football coach Phillip Banko said that the filming went well at ESJ last week, and said that chocolate milk provides a great boost to a team of athletes – not just because of its health content, but also its taste.

“Everyone loves chocolate milk. My wife loves it, my kid loves it, and my football players love it,” said Banko. “You can only digest between 19 and 23 grams of protein per serving, depending on your metabolism … in a protein drink, you’ll get between 30 and 40 grams per serving, but most of that ends up in the urinal. You’ll get the same thing from chocolate milk, and it’s much less expensive for us to provide.”

Chocolate milk isn’t the only tasty treat that can help an athlete more than commonly thought, Banko said.

“This summer, we’re gonna give ‘em Snickers bars,” he said. “You’ll get 12 grams of protein in a Snickers bar. You get more fat content than a protein bar, but for all intents and purposes you get the same benefits from it, it’s cheaper, and those protein bars don’t taste very good.

“So we’ll eat the Snickers bar, drink the chocolate milk, and let’s go. They’ll get what they need and have a chance to enjoy it, too.”