Dallas Cowboys' dietitian earned her nutrition stripes at TWU
As the Dallas Cowboys’ sports dietitian, alumna Amy Goodson is responsible for every morsel players and coaches put in their mouths from the start of organized team activities in April until the Super Bowl in February.
It’s enough responsibility to keep any graduate of Texas Woman’s University’s Exercise and Sports Nutrition Program busy, but Goodson, who completed her master’s degree in the program in 2006, has truly made her life’s passion her life’s work.
“I had always been into fitness,” Goodson said. “But when I found the program at TWU I knew nutrition was what I wanted to do.”
There always is work to be done when you hold as many professional titles as Goodson does.
As a registered dietitian working for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, her original job description has her consulting with the athletes and coaching staffs of the 18 teams in the Texas Christian University athletic department, home to some of the nation’s elite programs. Goodson and the registered dietitian she manages conduct team talks, meet with athletes one-on-one as needed and run a fueling station on campus to optimize eating habits so the competitors can get as much from their bodies as they demand.
She got that first job through a connection with her mentor Nancy DiMarco, nutrition and food sciences professor and director of TWU’s Institute for Women’s Health.
“At the time, Ben Hogan Sports Medicine had just reached an agreement with TCU regarding nutrition services, and with her amazing verbal skills combined with the prowess she showed in dietetics, Amy’s was the only name I gave them,” DiMarco said. “She was a natural for that position, and we’re proud of what she’s done after her time at TWU.”
Goodson has been at TCU for nearly 10 years after getting her bachelor’s degree in communication from the university in 2003.
The Dallas Cowboys called to inquire about her services before the 2012 season. Goodson also had been the team nutritionist for the Texas Rangers since 2009, a capacity she worked in through the 2014 baseball season.
Goodson also has served as the president of the Dallas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, co-authored a book titled Swim, Bike, Run – Eat on nutrition for tri-athletes and serves as the team dietitian consultant for the Major League Soccer team FC Dallas, all while finding time to consult with individual clients at Ben Hogan, which has offices in Fort Worth, Keller and Frisco. If that wasn’t enough, she teaches on the side. Goodson is an adjunct faculty member at TCU, TWU and at UT Arlington, where her experience gives her great insight for teaching sports nutrition courses at both the undergrad and graduate levels.
Most of her clients at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine are high school athletes or active adults training for competitive events. With the Cowboys, Goodson’s work is under the scrutiny that comes with meal planning for “America’s Team.”
That scrutiny comes after something of a boom period in the exercise nutrition field in the early 2000s. Goodson was deciding what she wanted to be when she grew up right at the same time, the Associated Press reported, NFL teams and major college athletic departments were in a nutritionist-hiring frenzy. From the 1990s to 2008, most NFL teams added a dietitian, either full time or on a consulting basis, to their staffs.
“The profession has massively grown,” Goodson said. “There was a movement that had been launched right around that time in the NFL, and later in other leagues, toward making sure these athletes at the highest level were getting the highest level of nutrition so they could perform.”
Now, Goodson’s duties include deciding on two healthy meals a day, and several snacks, to fuel the Cowboys’ bodies and coordinating all the catering involved. These exercises have become common practice in the high-stakes world of professional sports.
Goodson travels with the team to training camp each summer, gives incoming rookies a crash course in nutrition for high-powered athletes and decides what and when everyone will eat, and how much.
At different points on the calendar, the athletes’ weight goals vary considerably. During training camp, some players need to drop weight in order to fly around the field during the upcoming season, while others, including the rookies fresh from the college game, need to pack muscular weight onto their bodies. During the season, maintaining healthy weight is the goal, and Goodson is constantly tweaking menus and consulting with players and coaches to get it done.
Goodson is with the team at least Tuesday through Friday for lunches and is present at all home games at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. Combined with all her other responsibilities, it’s a dizzying schedule, though Goodson said game day duties don’t really feel like ‘work.’
“Watching these guys compete at the highest level is great,” Goodson said. “I’m grateful to have a small part in that and in the team. Sometimes, you just want to pinch yourself.”
Building on more than a century of educating students in the field of nutrition and food sciences, TWU has one of the nation’s strongest nutrition programs. TWU graduates go on to careers at the highest level in the field, including directing the nutrition programs for major hospitals, school districts, sports teams and more. For more information, visit http://www.twu.edu/nutrition-food-sciences/.