It takes more than just the players on the ﬁeld to make a winning football team. For the 2009 Mid-American Conference champions Central Michigan University Chippewas, it takes players, coaches, faculty, fans and…milk.
DMS producer Jerry Neyer of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was approached two years ago by Randy Golden, a strong supporter of CMU's 1100 Club, a football boosters' program. Coach Butch Jones wanted milk, and lots of it. The Chippewas wanted to incorporate milk into the players' diets after several recent studies showed drinking chocolate milk after exercise helps muscles recover as well as or better than water or electrolyte replacement drinks like Gatorade®.
Jerry Neyer, his parents, brother and uncle milk 1,100 cows on two farms in Mt. Pleasant and Shepherd, Michigan. He worked with other local farmers, agricultural businesses and McDonald Milk Hauling to donate milk so the CMU Chippewas can have milk available in the practice facility any time the players wanted it.
At a table near the locker room entrance you'll ﬁnd dispensers with white and chocolate milk plus three shake mixers where players can mix milk with powdered protein and carbohydrate boosters to add calories. "The positive nutritional value for the kids is really what drew us to milk. When they're not here, we don't know what they're eating. Now milk is right here, available to them after practice," says Dave Lawson, CMU's strength and conditioning coach. "The ﬁrst three hours after a workout is the most important time to get refueled."
The team goes through about 40 gallons of milk a week at the practice facility where the players spend at least three hours a day. But Jerry hopes they're drinking more milk outside the practice facility too. "What they're having in practice, if it tastes good to them and it is served to them right, there's a good chance they'll mimic that back at their apartment or their dorm," he says.
The positive milk message also carries over into the community. "To have the support of the University and the football team goes miles that you can't get back," says Jerry. "When the players go out to do community service and go into the schools, they talk about what they do and what they eat. Kids in those schools want to mimic those guys and they're going to mimic it at home. If those guys are drinking milk, the kids are going to drink milk, too."
Jerry has now set his sights on making milk a regular part of the diet of other athletes and students at CMU. "The ultimate goal, now that we've got it going, is to get vending machines into the student center to pay for milk not just for the football team, but other programs as well."