When veteran high school coach Don Adkins learned about the danger alcohol causes in young athletes, he was so impressed that he wanted to spread the word to all Fayette County coaches.
And as the district’s athletics director, he could – and did – make that happen.
Thus was born the first “Breakfast of Champions” presentation, held at Dunbar High in August and sponsored by the Keep It Real – Don’t Drink campaign.
Keynote speaker Stephanie Tracy-Simmons, a UK athletic trainer, outlined the latest research that shows the damage alcohol can cause young athletes.
Research from the American Athletic Institute shows that one evening of heavy drinking can reverse up to 14 days of a young athlete’s training effect.
Drinking interferes with muscle synthesis and repair – a crucial process during training for sports.
Alcohol is especially damaging for fast-twitch muscle fibers.
In addition, levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, are increased, and testosterone, an essential hormone created during recovery, is reduced for up to four days.
Young athletes who drink are twice as likely to be injured as their non-drinking teammates.
Research also shows that student-athletes are at higher risk for using and abusing alcohol than their non-athlete peers.
“All coaches want is for their athletes to perform at their best,” said Adkins, who coached for 27 years and has been the district athletics director for five.
“If students are doing something to inhibit that performance, our coaches need to take a look at that.”
Coaches at Tates Creek High could not attend the “Breakfast of Champions.” Adkins believed the presentation was so valuable, he arranged for the Keep It Real contingent to meet with those coaches later that day.
Young athletes may not see immediate negative effects of alcohol use, Adkins said, but they need to appreciate the long-term consequences.
“Every young athlete wants to play Division I ball and go to the pros,” he said.
“They need to avoid destroying their dreams at a young age by the decisions they are making now.”