Unlimited Meal Feature Story

 

In April, the NCAA council approved a new rule that will allow current and future Division I student-athletes to be provided with unlimited meals and snacks so players wouldn’t have to go through what UConn point guard Shabazz Napier during his collegiate career.

Napier made comments during the NCAA tournament of nights where he couldn’t afford enough meals for himself.

The new rules implemented by the NCAA has been a long time coming for student-athletes and now they have one less thing to worry about.

The new rule should ideally allow athletes the ability to eat the right amount of meals each day but what do the changes mean for schools like the University of Houston?

“The common misconception with the rule is that it will allow unlimited meals to all of our student-athletes,” said UH Sports Nutritionist Glenda Blaskey, “What it really does is it allow the school more opportunities to provide meals and more variety of food for post snack workout.”

Blaskey helps with menu planning, food service operations, catering for team travel, pregame meals and creating specific individual meal plans for athletes.

“It’s important for us to provide the financial need of each and every single student-athlete” said Jeff Collier, the associate AD for business and finance.

What a student-athlete consume plays a huge role in how an athlete performances during workouts, games, and to repair the body from such activities.

“Poor nutrition can lead to an increase in risk of injuries taking place,” said Head Trainer Michael O’Shea.

The NCAA has stated that it’s up to the universities on how to “determine the nutritional need of its athletes.”

While the three day meal plan won’t be affected, it will help those who need the help.

“The new rule is meant to assist with three day meal plan as it’s still what we recommended to our athletes on how much nutrition they should consume each day,” said Blaskey.

The NCAA may have been behind implementing a rule that should have always been provided student athletes won’t have to worry about starving when they go to bed.

 

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Profile Story: Patrick Sullivan

University of Houston Women Tennis Coach Patrick Sullivan

“I love the job, the relationship with the student athletes, other coaches, with the administration here,” said University of Houston Women Tennis Coach Patrick Sullivan. “I love being outside on a beautiful day like today getting to wear shorts and working with people excited to play tennis,” said Sullivan on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

Words spoken from a man who loves coaching, and his passion for tennis.

Growing up

Sullivan was born in Bueno Aires, Argentina and his family moved to Houston, Texas when he was 9 years old.

His family came  with very little when they first arrived in Houston. “Houston is a special place to me because when we came here to Houston, we came here with nothing,” said Sullivan, “My dad, brother, and I mowed yards and did yard work when we first got here just to make rent.”

His mother earned her college degree from the University of Houston and went on to become a teacher specializing in special education and in English Second Language classes.

His father had a college degree when they first got to Houston, and he would then go on to earning a Master’s Degree as well as a PHD.

Playing Tennis

Sullivan played tennis when he was in Bueno Aires and continue doing so in Houston.

“Houston has a very good junior tennis system,” said Sullivan. “In northwest Houston where I grew up, every neighborhood has a team, so you would represent your neighborhood and play other neighborhood.”

Sullivan also played in more competitive in junior tennis league in the UTSA (United States Tennis Association).

Sullivan attended Texas A&M University hoping to continue his pursuit of becoming a professional tennis player.

An unexpected calling

“I went to Texas A&M where I really wasn’t good enough to play,” said Sullivan. “I tried but the guys on that team were world class who represented their country, and I couldn’t get in the starting line up,”said Sullivan. “Halfway through college, gave it up and focused on school, graduated and worked in the energy industry after college, and really didn’t touch a tennis racket for five years.”

Sullivan served as a member of Texas A&M Corps of Cadets for four years while also pursued in a law degree.

As his path to become a professional tennis player came to an end, his love for the sport wouldn’t extinguished.

“I was in grad school helping Texas A&M with the men’s team really just to stay in shape,” said Sullivan, “I didn’t have any intention of coaching as a career but I really enjoyed it.”

Sullivan was offered the assistant coaching position at Southern Methodist University while he was still earning his law degree and accepted the opportunity.

Help Along the Way

Sullivan credits many people throughout his coaching experience who have influenced him the most.

“The Athletic Director at Stephen F. Austin Robert Hill, a good man that cared more than just tennis or about wins and losses, a man who really cared about the kids on all of the team and the coaches,” said Sullivan, “He’s a person I respect a lot and still go to for guidance.”

Stephen F. Austin was the first school to offer Sullivan the opportunity to be a head coach and served as their coach from 2010-2012.

“Tim Cass, the first guy I worked for at Texas A&M, I really learned a lot from him about all the different aspects of being a coach,” said Sullivan. “Not just coaching tennis, but all the non-aspect like the management of the team, the relationship with the individuals on the team, fundraising, and getting involved with the community,” said Sullivan.

Tim Cass was the men’s tennis head coach at Texas A&M when Sullivan was helping the team out.

Sullivan also credits Arkansas women tennis Head Coach Michael Hegarty when it came to recruiting, and Auburn Head Coach Lauren Longbotham on how to coach women athletes.

“Mack Rhoades our Athletic Director, he knows a lot of about sports, leadership and management,” said Sullivan. “So he’s someone I go to know for mentorship and guidance.”

The Joy of being a Coach

Sullivan views his job not to just serve as a coach, but to also be a mentor to his athletes.

“The joy of the job for me is a little bit of living vicariously through my athletes now,” said Sullivan, “I could not have tried any harder than I did.” “I was eliminated by talent, but I coach women that have world class talent so if I can get them to try as hard as I did, to understand the game like I do and then take their world class talent and put it use, then that’s fine,” said Sullivan.

“I think my job aside from teaching tennis is to send them into the world with more subsistence than they got here,” said Sullivan.

Hobby

When it comes to hobbies, Sullivan finds it very tough to be away from tennis and his family.

“You can tell what someone values by what they spend their time and money on,” said Sullivan when addressing his players about what they should values in life.

“I spend my time on my family and team, and I also spend my money on my family and team, so I don’t really have any hobbies,” said Sullivan. “I would say travel would be my hobby but 90% of my travel is through tennis.”

The Astrodome Unknown Future

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The Astrodome rests quietly in its eternal slumber. The dome was shut down in 2008 due to code violations.

Once nicknamed the “Eight Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome has remained an iconic building for Houston. However, the future of the dome is unclear as there’s currently no plan to put the venue to use.

The dome first opened in 1965 and was once the home of the Houston Astros, Houston Oilers, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. With newer venues taking the spotlight away from the dome, the question of what to do it with it lingers as time goes on.

  • The Astros played its final season in the Astrodome in 1999
  • The Oilers played its final season in 1996
  • The Rodeo moved to NRG Stadium in 2003

How we got here

Judge Ed Emmett faced the tough challenge of what to do with the dome when he was appointed County Judge of Harris County in 2007. “I came in as County Judge, and it was already decided that the stadium would become a hotel,” said Judge Emmett, “The people that had the rights to do that had never built a hotel and they didn’t have any money.”

“It’s an asset and paid for and I think we ought to put it to good use” said Judge Emmett who is adamant on finding a solution to put the dome back to use. The dome is fully paid for with the maintenance and upkeep at about $166,000 annually.

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Harris County Judge Ed Emmett wants to keep the Astrodome around for years to come.

Judge Emmett went to the public and asked for their ideas on what to do with the dome.

“The ideal situation would have been a private investor to come in and say we’ll take the dome and we’ll do this with it and we’ll pay the county,” said Judge Emmett, “But nobody came forward; a lot of them had ideas, they just didn’t have any money.”

In 2013, voters struck down a proposal that would have converted the Astrodome into a convention center. “We don’t need another convention center, we got two of those already,” said Judge Emmett.

  • The proposal asked for a $217 million bond from taxpayers
  • Voters struck down the proposition with 53% voting no

In 2014, the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo came up with a $66 million plan to demolish the dome. However, at the same time preservation groups were working hard to preserve the dome.

There is currently a pending status for the Astrodome to be labeled as a historic landmark which would help prevent the demolishing of the dome. “Anything we do with the stadium right now, we would have to get the approval from the Texas Historical Commission because there’s a pending application to make the dome an antiquity landmark,” said Judge Emmett.

Saving the Astrodome

David Bush is the Acting Executive Director of Preservation Houston who is looking to keep the Astrodome around.

“It’s going to cost millions just to take it down; you can’t just put out a bulldozer and demolish it, So the cost of demolishing it isn’t really far from what it would cost to renovate it.” said Bush.

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David Bush discussing the importance of keeping the Astrodome around.

 

When asked about the significance of keeping building like the Astrodome around Bush said, “Part of it is a sense of your history and where you come from and where you’re going,” he also added, “A lot of it is learning how to use these buildings.”

“It didn’t just bring sports into Houston, it also showed that you could bring sports into the south where you know it’s pretty miserable,” said Bush. “You don’t want to be out in the summer with the mosquitoes and the heat and watch baseball, so it showed other cities what could be done, it set the pace for other cities but it also put Houston on the map.”

Judge Emmett idea of an Indoor park

In 2014, Judge Emmett made a statement about his vision of how he wanted the Astrodome to be used as indoor park.

When asked about how he came up with the idea he said, “I don’t know if it came back to me as an epiphany or whether I got to it over a period of time, but I got back to the idea of the original purpose of the dome was to move outdoor activity to indoor and so that’s where the park idea came from.”

“Our hope is once we restore the certificate of occupancy and people begin using the park in the dome, then the upper level can be used for anything,” said Judge Emmett.

“A lot of festival and gathering are out in discover green, they’d love to be weather proof.” Festivals like The Japan Festival takes place at Hermann Park and the Korean Festival takes place at Discovery Green.

“The dome doesn’t have to stay the same over the years,” said Judge Emmett, noting the endless possibility of what can be done with the dome.“When or whatever happens to it, it will no longer be a stadium.”

To Keep or Demolish it

The people of Houston has remained conflicted in what to do with the dome as another year goes by.

John Fernandez, a worker at FedEx who has lived in Houston all of his life expressed his thoughts on the Astrodome situation. “It shows how Houston in general has no concrete for plans at all. They’ll look at once and when they don’t have money for it, they’ll look elsewhere and focus on other issues instead,” said Fernandez.

“When you do that, the issue of the dome becomes neglected and when that happens, the problems snowballs and puts us into the situation we are in today.”

Terrence Jordan worked at Reliant Stadium as a security guard in 2011, described his thought of what it was like to be around the Astrodome.

“It feels like an abandon home, it feels like the essence of it is gone from it with how irrelevant it has become.”

“What I don’t understand is the people that get emotional that say if you don’t tear it down; you’re an awful person,” said Judge Emmett.

“I don’t understand why they’re emotionally so attach to tearing it down; but we’re not doing that, it’s going to stay standing.”