Board of Commissioners recognizes MSU sexual assault program

(March 30, 2015): The Ingham County Board of Commissioners formally recognized the 35th anniversary of Michigan State’s sexual assault awareness program during its March 24 meeting.

Board member Penelope Tsernoglou presented the recognition to Lauren Allswede, a therapist with the program, and gave her a framed copy of the resolution.

“I’ve heard really great things about it from the community, and we just wanted to recognize their anniversary,” said Tsernoglou. “I know they’ve been a big part of the MSU community and that a lot of other places don’t have programs like this, so we’re very fortunate to have this program.”

The sexual assault program was first established during the 1979-1980 school year and offers services such as a 24-hour crisis line, counseling for victims as well as medical support through Sparrow Hospital.

 “We’re the first and oldest campus-based sexual assault program, and I think that speaks for itself because that’s not just Michigan, that’s nationwide,” said Bianca Segura, the advocacy coordinator for the sexual assault program. “I’m really excited that they recognized the program and the services that have been offered.”

 The program is funded mostly by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and received $201,038 for the fiscal year of 2015, according to its Michigan State University sexual assault program. The university also provides a portion of the funding.

 “VOCA funds positions that do direct service like therapy and our advocacy coordinator,” said Allswede. “Without that money we wouldn’t really be able to do a lot of the counseling, the support groups, meeting people at the hospital. That’s what really makes it possible to do anything.”

 Currently, the program has more than 100 volunteers and two full-time therapists. The university has recently allocated additional funds to hire a third therapist. The program also offers legal advocacy for victims.

 “If someone needs to file a police report, if someone needs to meet with a detective or go to trial, we offer support throughout that process,” said Segura.

 According to the sexual assault program’s website, it served 565 people between October 2013 and September 2014, including 415 adult sexual assault survivors. Women accounted for nearly 89 percent of the people who received help from the program.

“It started with one position in 1981 that was like a half-time position, and it’s grown tremendously since then,” said Allswede.

 The office of the sexual assault program is located in room 14 of the student services building.

 Office: 517-355-3551

24-hour sexual assault crisis line: 517-372-6666

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Ingham County Animal Shelter seeks a new home

(April 28, 2015): The Ingham County Animal Shelter, like many of the animals inside it, is looking for a new home.

“The building has basically exceeded its capacity and its useful life,” said Andrew Seltz, director of the animal shelter. “As we’ve gone and progressed as an organization. The building unfortunately hasn’t.”

The animals suffer the most from the old, dilapidated building. Lack of airflow often leads to illnesses circulating among the animals. Volunteer Roxann Wilkinson described it as a vicious cycle. As soon as some animals recover, they get sick all over again. Puppies and kittens are not kept for very long for fear that they could get sick.

Overcrowding is constantly a problem with the shelter. Fortunately, no animal has been euthanized due to lack of space in nearly two years, but shelter officials are worried that they are pushing the limits of the building every year.

To try to combat this problem, Seltz sent a request to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners on April 9 to try to reduce adoption fees during periods of overcrowding. The request was approved by the board, and the resolution will look like this:

shelter capacity = 80%, adoption fees = 80% off
shelter capacity = 90%, adoption fees = 90% off
shelter capacity = 100%, adoption fees = Waived

shelter capacity = 80%, adoption fees = 50% off
shelter capacity = 90%, adoption fees = 75% off
shelter capacity = 100%, adoption fees = waived

The layout of the building is often confusing to visitors. Volunteer Larry Hagedorn described it as a maze, and said he often sees visitors getting lost in the corridors. The hallways are narrow and congested during busy hours.

Hagedorn, who has been with the shelter for about eight years, thinks it would be a good idea to have a separate wing each for dogs and cats. Currently, both animals go through the same doors, which can be intimidating for some cats.

The search has begun for a new building, but one has not been chosen. There was talk late in 2014 of using the Annex Building in Mason, but the renovations needed to make it work as an animal shelter were too extensive. Commissioner Kara Hope said there was an assessment of the building, but the land and the building were both too small.

“Right now we’re in the process of trying to find something,” said Seltz. “There’s been talks about North Lansing, East Lansing, MSU area, anywhere like that, so we’re currently looking for any type of property out there. So we haven’t had it whittled down yet.”

The price range that the shelter is looking at is tentative right now, but estimated at roughly $6 million. This could change depending on market prices, land value and required building materials. A three acre site would be ideal for a new shelter.

“We’d be looking for a clean canvas,” said Seltz. “Accessibility is going to be important, availability, like is it close to the city, is it close to an interstate, is it easily accessible, those are all things we want to take into consideration.”

Renovating the current building is not a feasible option. According to Seltz, much of the building would have to be knocked down and rebuilt. There is also no room to expand. Seltz thinks a location could be selected and purchased within a year.

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Koenigsknecht named new Ingham ISD superintendent

(April 27, 2015): The Ingham Intermediate School District has selected Dr. Scott Koenigsknecht to be the new superintendent. He will begin work July 1 after the retirement of current superintendent Stanley Kogut Jr. 

“I’m very excited and eager and honored to be selected as the next superintendent of Ingham ISD,” said Koenigsknecht. “They have an excellent reputation throughout the state for the services they provide to the 12 local school districts and public school academies that they serve. I am honored to be chosen and excited to get started.”

Koenigsknecht was the superintendent for Montcalm County ISD for the past eight years. He also served as a local superintendent for six years prior to holding that position.

“I do believe the board picked the right person,” said Kogut. “He’s been ISD superintendent, he’s been a local superintendent and he’s had other experiences, so the process was very well thought out and went very well for us.”

Koenigsknecht signed a three-year contract that officially begins July 1, but he said he wants to get started two days earlier on Monday, June 29. Retiring Superintendent Kogut held the position since July 2005.

“We picked him I think because of his extensive body of work over the past 14 years in the ISD arena up in Montcalm County and the work that he’s done with the local districts up there,” said Michael Flowers, president of the Ingham Intermediate Board of Education. “He’s progressively increased his knowledge of the business from a legislative standpoint, as well as working with the local districts and his overall perspective on how to handle local ISDs.”

The transition process has already begun for Koenigsknecht. He is using his accumulated vacation time to spend about a half a day per week shadowing at Ingham ISD so he can hit the ground running when he officially starts work.

“Ingham has an excellent reputation throughout the state for providing excellent services,” said Koenigsknecht. “I know it’s a quality organization made up of quality people. A lot of the initiatives that we have undertaken at Montcalm County are very similar to what’s going on at Ingham County, just on a little bit smaller of a scale. 

Koenigsknecht graduated from Central Michigan University, where he also earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership. He took the traditional path to becoming superintendent, starting as a teacher and working his way up to assistant principal and then principal.

“It was a very thought-out process,” said Flowers. “We had very good qualified candidates apply for the position. I think every board member did an extensive job at vetting the candidates and we felt like we got the best qualified candidate for the position.”

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Ingham County Animal Shelter’s mobile adoption events successful

(April 24, 2015):Imagine walking into a Lowe’s looking for supplies and coming out with a furry friend. It happens quite often at mobile adoption events put on by the Ingham County Animal Shelter.

“I have a saying when it comes to those kind of events,” said Larry Hagedorn, a volunteer with the animal shelter, “Yeah, I need a bunch of nails and I’ll take a puppy too.”

The animal shelter puts on mobile adoption events all over the greater Lansing area, mostly at pet stores but occasionally at other businesses. The shelter brings about four or five foster dogs and about eight or 10 foster cats and have trained volunteers ready to answer any questions. This provides an alternative for people who feel uneasy about going to the actual shelter.

“A lot of people don’t like the shelter because it can be too much of a reality of how bad things are for some of the animals,” said Hagedorn. “So they can come here and see them and it’s much more comfortable.”

The majority of the animals at these events are foster animals, meaning they are living in a temporary home until they find a “forever family.” The volunteers who foster the animals are present to give detailed information to prospective families.

“I think it’s good PR, both for the pet store that invites us in, and for us to get out into the community and show people that the animals are being taken care of,” said Kay Jones, a volunteer who also fosters several animals. “We work very hard at keeping the animals healthy, safe and loved.”

Not only are the events good public relations for the shelter, they also boost business for the stores that host.

“We give out a coupon adoption booklet when anyone adopts an animal,” said Teresa Thomas, a store manager at Petco. “With the shelter having the adoption events here, it definitely does help generate more business for us because they’re here in the store buying supplies from us.”

People can adopt an animal on the same day they come to the event, but the shelter prefers that they take time to think it over and come back for an additional visit at the shelter.

“We usually adopt about 15-25 animals from each event, even if they don’t go home that day,” said Sierra Hintz, a new volunteer with the shelter. “But families will come back later to the shelter and look for a cat or dog they saw at the event.”

These events even attract “groupies,” according to Jones, who said some people will come to several events and keep looking until they find the perfect animal.

“We make sure that its not a spur-of-the-moment thing and they don’t go home and regret it,” said Hagedorn.

Prospective adopters are questioned by the volunteers about what other animals they might have at home or if they are ready for the responsibility. If the person or family is ready to adopt, they must pass a background check and fill out several forms. Then they can take their new furry friend home the same day.

For more information, visit the Ingham County animal shelter website.

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Who fuels our athletes?

An athlete is like a finely-tuned engine. With proper care and maintenance, that engine will give you a lifetime of high-performance. But neglect it, abuse it, and it will suffer. Think of Jessica Watson as the head mechanic for Michigan State student-athletes.
Watson is the head sports dietician for Michigan State University. She is the one responsible for maintaining the engines of over 800 student-athletes. Watson and her staff of 25 undergraduate interns and graduate assistants oversee most of what the athletes eat on a regular basis (if they listen to her advice).
Sports nutrition has become highly individualized. Nearly every athlete has a unique diet designed specifically to reach their personal goals. Height, weight, time of year and even position are all factors that Watson has to consider when advising athletes on what to put in their bodies.
“The wide receiver doesn’t receive the same amount of nutrition that a quarterback might need,” said Watson. “We calculate it out based on their position and what they’re required to do. If they need to be anaerobic or not move as much, they’re not going to need as many calories or carbohydrates as a basketball player would who is very aerobic.”
Navigating NCAA rules
As recent as a few years ago, universities had to be extremely careful in what they fed their athletes. The NCAA rules greatly restricted what was permissible to give an athlete and what was not.
“We couldn’t even provide peanut butter at one point,” said Watson. “They literally meant fruit, nuts and milk I believe was what it was that we could provide.”
On August 1, 2014, new NCAA rules went into effect that allowed schools to feed athletes unlimitedly as long as it was “incidental to participation.” This means a team can feed players before or after a practice, game, film session or any event that had to do with the team.
The NCAA came under heavy pressure to change their rules after University of Connecticut star Shabazz Napier complained during the 2014 NCAA Tournament about “going to bed hungry” because he simply could not afford to buy food all the time.
Watson and her staff also have to be wary of NCAA rules when giving vitamins and supplements to players. One positive drug test can derail an athlete’s season, or even career. Every athlete must get a supplement approved before they can take it, allowing the staff to track what players are taking and give them helpful advice.
“If a kid wants to take creatine, but maybe his goals don’t match what creatine does, it allows me to go back and give a supplement recommendation that might help them reach their goals faster,” said Watson.
Protein shakes
Protein shakes are a staple of an athlete’s diet at MSU. Watson and her staff fill these shakes with fresh fruit, milk, vitamin D, protein powder, a multivitamin and sometimes peanut butter. The amount of protein in each shake differs based on the player and his or her goals.
“We did their body composition testing,” said Watson, “and from there we determined how many calories they need, how much protein they need post workout and we created a list. It’s also dependent on their flavor preference. Some guys like fruity ones, some guys like chocolate peanut butter, so we got those preferences.”
In basketball, protein and calorie requirements are even more personalized due to how specialized each position is. For example, senior forward Matt Costello (6-foot-9, 240 pounds) and sophomore guard Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) definitely do not drink the same protein shake.
“Matt Costello needs significantly more calories in his shake,” said Watson. “We’ll often put up to three scoops of protein powder in there, sometimes four, and that’s the basic. That comes out to about 240 calories per two scoops, so you can imagine there are a lot of calories in there. For Tum Tum, sometimes it’s as little as two.
These protein shakes are available to athletes in several areas across campus, including the new state-of-the-art Gatorade fueling station.
Meal timing
Sometimes what an athlete eats is not nearly as important as when they eat it.
“I always go over nutrition timing with my athletes,” said Watson. “It’s one of the biggest problems that I see in athletes around the nation.”
Being a full-time student and a full-time athlete means that most days they don’t get a chance to eat until nighttime. Watson makes it a priority to emphasize to all athletes how important meal timing is to their diets, and what to eat when.
If a player eats a large meal right before practice, they will likely be slower and weighed down. If they don’t eat enough before practice, they may be tired from lack of carbohydrates. If they do have to eat at night, Watson says they should eat something with more protein instead of more carbohydrates.
Perhaps the most important meal for an athlete is the pregame meal. Anything they put into their bodies could greatly affect their performance in the game.
“We always have a pasta source on there,” said Watson, “trying to make sure they have those carbohydrates. We have people that just want chicken pregame so we do a lean chicken option. We have kids that just want fish and maybe are pescetarians and need fish, so we’ll have that on there. We always have a beef source as well.”
A cardinal sin for pregame meals: fried foods. Anything fried is extremely high in fat, which will slow an athlete down during competition. Even something as seemingly harmless as alfredo sauce on pasta can make a difference.
Senior guard Denzel Valentine has been following the advice of Watson, and it has been paying dividends. He has sworn off fried foods and drinks plenty of water.
“Definitely can see it in my body,” said Valentine, “and I don’t get tired as much in the game. I recover faster, definitely see a huge change.”
Meals before practice can be just as important. Watson goes to nearly all men’s basketball practices to get a sense of how their diet affects their game. Sometimes even the most minor changes in calorie intake or meal timing can make a huge difference on the court.
“If we change something in their diet, I want to know how it’s affecting them,” said Watson. “Is it giving them more energy? Is it giving them less energy? The last thing we want to do is cut their calories a bunch and then they can’t perform in the sport they need to perform in.”
So, who pays for all of this?
If you’re a student or a parent paying for tuition at MSU, don’t worry, you’re not paying for Matt Costello’s protein shake. MSU relies on a number of sources of income to feed its athletes. Corporate sponsorships make up a part of that.
The National Dairy Association of Michigan is the official milk sponsor of MSU. Gatorade sponsored and built a state-of-the-art “fueling station” in the Clara Bell Smith Student Center. The rest of the money comes from players’ scholarships.
Athletes want to have fun, too
Too often, people forget that these college athletes are also students as well. Their life is not all practice and games and training. They want to have a little bit of fun too. For athletes of age, this can mean drinking. Watson goes over the effects of alcohol on the body with all the athletes, so they know when is a good time to drink and when is best to lay off.
It takes about three to five days for alcohol to completely leave the system, according to Watson. During that time, athletic performance can be hindered, so drinking right before the big game might not be the best idea.
Having fun might also include indulging in junk food once in a while. After most games, basketball players can be seen with a half-eaten pizza in front of their locker or a box of chicken wings. While this may seem counterintuitive to the emphasis on a good diet, it serves a purpose.
“We try to give them what they want,” said Watson. “You have to understand that these guys need 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day, sometimes way more than that even. So when you’re looking at that you want to also provide them with something that’s good, and they are college students, so we gotta give them a little slack.”
Eat this, not that!
Watson and her team have also developed a guide for athletes that helps them decide what to eat at nearly every local restaurant in the East Lansing area. The guide includes over 40 restaurants and is presented in an “Eat This, Not That” format. And yes, McDonald’s is even on there too.
“I never say no to an athlete when it’s out of their control,” said Watson. “If their friends are all going to McDonalds, I’d rather them look through the menu and find something that meets their calorie goals or ask me rather than just not eat.”
One of Watson’s graduate assistants, Mackenzie Kohlhorst, is working on finding healthy options for players beyond East Lansing.
“I’ve been working on projects for her, looking up different healthy options for different restaurants around the Big Ten,” said Kohlhorst. “So when the athletes go and travel to different games and events, they have good options of what to eat if they’re on their own or if [the team] orders meals to supply for the athletes.”
Watson’s staff also collects the menus from every cafeteria on campus and advises what each athlete should eat and what they should avoid. This prevents some of the athletes from falling into the traps of all-you-can-eat pizza and self-serve ice cream.
Building trust
Food is a huge part of anyone’s life, especially athletes. For someone you don’t know to come in and tell you to completely change what you eat is not always a seamless process. Watson joined the MSU staff in January 2015 and is still working to build trust with the athletes. She said over the past year she has noticed a change.
“They’ve been berated by so many people and so many fans that they really have to build that trust,” said Watson. “Once they build that trust they come looking to you for advice. I have kids text me all the time, even track and field or swimming and diving, that are asking me questions. ‘Hey I’m at this restaurant what should I get? I don’t know.’ They’re very trusting and they do try to follow my advice to the best of their abilities.”
That trust not only extends to the players, but to to training and coaching staffs as well. She works closely with Quinton Sawyer, the athletic trainer for men’s basketball, and Todd Moyer, the strength and conditioning coach. Together, they make sure the players and coaches get exactly what they need.
“Todd and ‘Q’ and I are always communicating,” said Watson, “and one of us is making sure that Coach [Tom Izzo]’s needs get met. Any concerns he has, we bring the research to him. He’s been exceptional at letting us know what the players need.”
Small, growing field
The sports dietician field is quite small. According to Watson, only about 53 schools in the nation have sports dieticians, and only 13 have more than one. To get a sense of how small those numbers truly are, consider that there are over 1,000 member schools in the NCAA. Watson said MSU is considering adding another sports dietician to help her look after the more than 800 athletes she’s responsible for.
Looking after all those engines is a daunting task. Jessica Watson might be the most important mechanic Michigan State has.