JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 22, 2017)– What do the Chicago Cubs, the NFL Scouting Combine and Dining Services at East Tennessee State University have in common? Alexa Scully.
Since graduating from ETSU in 2015 with a master’s in nutrition, Scully has taken advantage of several unique career opportunities. One resulted in a World Series ring and another brought her back to her alma mater. Last year, Scully became the campus wellness dietitian and dining manager for the university food service provider Sodexo.
“What I really love about working with a younger population is making a difference early, which can prevent disease later on,” she said. "It’s Important to make an impact early.”
Scully’s passion for nutrition lies in prevention. She says cancer is very common in her family so she began researching how nutrition is related to disease and became fascinated by it. Scully worked as a nutrition coach for IMG Academy during the annual NFL Combine leading up to the draft, and then took a seasonal position with the Chicago Cubs organization as it looked to expand its nutrition program to minor league teams.
“The Cubs decided they needed a nutritionist with every team just as they have an athletic trainer and strength and containing coach at each affiliate,” she said.
Scully joined the Cubs staff the first year a pilot nutrition program was implemented throughout the entire organization, which just happened to be the same year the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Through her work with the athletes, Scully was presented with a 2016 World Series ring.
“It was such an amazing experience to be a part of and I am extremely thankful for the Cubs including me to be a part of history,” she said.
At the conclusion of the season for Cubs’ minor league team the Tennessee Smokies, Scully returns to her job at Sodexo where she works one-on-one with students to help them set and meet their nutrition goals. She locates alternatives for people with food allergies and develops plans for weight loss, lean body mass gain, or managing diseases such as celiac and diabetes.
“If we don’t have food options for people with allergies, then they are being excluded,” she said. “We want to offer a dining environment where everyone is included. It’s rewarding to help and make a difference with something that seems so small to most people, but food allergies effect people every day.”
Scully works with the Market Place, ETSU’s largest restaurant, to ensure healthier options are available. She guides students to look around the Market Place before building their plate. For example, the Simple Serving area does not serve food containing the top eight allergens – fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, dairy and eggs.
Athletes also come to Scully for nutrition assistance in hopes of seeing an improvement in their performance. Luckily, she has experience in that area. Scully has seen firsthand how planned pre and post-game meals can positively affect performance on the field.
“After two season, the nutrition program is very highly valued by players and coaches, as well as the Cubs organization,” Scully said.
Scully encourages students to “take baby steps” to reach their goals. Encouraging students to make smart food choices and meal planning for an entire baseball team is no easy feat, but she’s always working toward the end result – improved health.
“There’s not anything else I could see myself doing, but being a dietitian,” Scully said. “I absolutely love it. If you love what you do you can make a bigger impact.”