DURHAM, N.C. – Beth Miller joined Duke Athletics in May, 2017 as the Blue Devils' Director of Sports Nutrition. GoDuke.com recently caught up with Miller to talk about her role with the Blue Devils on and off the field.
GoDuke.com: To start things off, can you tell us about the path you took to Duke?
Beth Miller: I grew up in Wisconsin and then went to Tennessee Tech University for my undergrad, where I ran cross country and track. I got my bachelor's of science in dietetics and I minored in exercise science to add the sports edge in. My master's is from Florida State. I got a master's in exercise physiology and also completed my dietetic internship, which is a year-long portion of specialized intern rotations. And then worked as a graduate assistant in Sports Nutrition there. After that, I got the job out at UCLA and worked there, directing that program for two years. And then came here.
GoDuke.com: How does your experience as a former student-athlete help you in your current role?
BM: It has helped me a ton. That's probably the biggest reason why I've stayed in this area of nutrition because I can relate to them. Once they find out I was a student-athlete too, they know that I get what they're going through.
GoDuke.com: What are your overarching goals as you work with all these different athletic programs at Duke?
BM: I do have a full-time assistant, Alyson Heller, who has been very helpful. We're working together as a team to make sure we're reaching all the sports as best we can. Number one is just starting with an educational foundation. That's where it all comes from - if we can educate them to do the right things, hopefully they can carry it out for the times we're not there. So education and relationship-building with the staff and with the athletes so they really understand what we're here for.
GoDuke.com: What objectives are you communicating to the student-athletes about properly fueling their bodies for competition?
BM: It depends upon the athlete and upon the sport, but the biggest analogy I always use is about how food is our fuel like fuel for a car. If you're not putting enough in, or not the right types, like the right grade for your car, then you're not going to get the best performance. I try to give them that visual.
GoDuke.com: What sort of impact does proper nutrition have on athletes' performances?
BM: They can see all kinds of things based on their goals - enhanced recovery, enhanced overall performance on and off the field and in the classroom even. Nutrition weaves into that and it's obviously a big focus for student-athletes in a college setting. Just overall improvement in all areas.
GoDuke.com: What are you looking forward to about working with the field hockey program?
BM: I've never had field hockey at a school that I've been at before, so it's really exciting for me. Just from meeting with Coach Bustin and the staff, they are very excited about what we do and very open to that. It starts with relationship-building with the team so they know that they can come to me and trust me with anything.
GoDuke.com: Is there anything about sports nutrition that is specific to the sport of field hockey?
BM: With the nature of the sport, it can get a little bit tricky because there are times in the game they have to sprint. But there are also times when a field hockey athlete needs to focus on endurance and strength. That's going to be fun and unique for me as I take a look at their training schedule and also altering it for games, especially with the timing of games. They have a lot of different elements to their sport. So that's where, as far as educating them, we would break it up into little pieces here and there.
GoDuke.com: Anything else we should know about you?
BM: I love sports and I love nutrition, so pairing my two loves together for my profession is great. I love being active, being outside. There are a lot of outdoor activities here in Durham, which is good. And I just love meeting new people and seeing where everyone came from.
Favorite athlete: Reggie White
Hobbies: Running, hiking, cake decorating
Favorite book: The Broken Way: A Daring Path to an Abundant Life
Favorite movie: A League of Their Own
Favorite TV show: Food Network's Chopped
Favorite musician: Garth Brooks
Hidden talent: I make a killer buttercream frosting for my cakes with a secret ingredient that I won’t even tell to my grandma
Best advice you've received: Love what you do and stay true to you
Best thing you’ve done since you’ve moved to Durham: Exploring some of the Eno River hiking trails and the awesome local restaurants
Follow the Blue Devils’ Sports Nutrition staff on Twitter at @dukesportsnut.