Jan. 5 2017 08:00 AM

Chocolate milk offers a unique approach to help support local athletes.

It is sports season in our household. Basketball is in full swing, weight lifting tournaments are underway, and after-school workouts have become routine. With all of this excitement comes the loss of extra help around the farm. Nevertheless, cheering on our local team is a must in our family. Here is a unique way we support our community’s athletes.

Chocolate milk is a favorite beverage amongst those of all ages. It is also a great way to replenish protein following an intense workout. Younger athletes, often times, believe sports drinks are the best way to recover after exercise. It is becoming more common, however, for school programs to offer chocolate or white milk instead, encouraging athletes to make a healthier decision.

Six years ago, our family farm partnered with our high school’s varsity basketball teams to help promote chocolate milk as a sports drink. We would purchase chocolate milk from local grocery stores, often times buying them out of stock, and give that milk away for the teams to enjoy after every home game.

Both players and coaches were slightly hesitant of our proposal at first, but agreed to give it a try. If the coolers of milk were not empty by the end of the first night, we would discontinue bringing milk to the games.

We had no problem reaching our goal. The chocolate milk was a huge hit!

It soon became more common to see our athletes reaching for chocolate milk rather than the frequent sports drink. Before long, other athletes besides basketball players were looking for dairy products to help them bounce back after a game.

With such positive feedback from coaches, athletes, and parents, our high school began selling chocolate milk to all students in the facilities weight room. After a workout, students were able to grab a carton of milk to help them rehydrate, build muscle, and strengthen bones.

It may just be a coincidence that our athletes have gone on to win more games and even clinch state titles in the past six years, but our family likes to believe that the chocolate milk has had something to do with it.

Try introducing chocolate milk to your school’s sports program. The team may not win more games or improve their records, but they may just leave with a greater appreciation for dairy products, and that is a win in my books.

Taylor Leach

Taylor Leach grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Linwood, Kansas. Leach graduated with an associate’s degree from Kansas City Kansas Community College and now attends Oklahoma State University, majoring in animal science and agriculture communications. On campus, she is a member of the dairy club and also works on the university's dairy farm. Leach was the 2016 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.