All teams face adversity.
But whether it's overcoming a devastating loss, a season-ending injury or a conflict between a player and coach, the great teams separate themselves from the average squads by navigating trying times and using those experiences to positively impact the future of the team.
The Garland (Texas) Owls football team faced a buffet-sized serving of adversity at the halfway mark of their 2012 season.
After struggling through (and losing) their first four games and preparing to face a crosstown rival under the Friday night lights, the Owls decided to shake up their pre-game meal routine.
Pizza, cinnamon rolls and brownies will forever haunt the Owls.
"We ate so much pizza that by game time, we were so sleepy and tired," QB Carvontez Gates recalls.
"We were fatigued, we were all over the place, and our focus wasn't there," adds wide receiver/safety Jerrell Taylor. "We had to grind through it."
The Owls escaped with a 30-23 win, snapped their four-game losing streak and swore off pre-game pizza parties.
Garland's football players had learned, albeit the hard way, the importance of taking in the right type and right amount of pre-game fuel. "You can't eat a bunch of fast food and then try to go out and play, because then you'll be sluggish," Gates says.
From that game on, the Owls stuck to a pre-game meal plan of chicken—grilled, baked and even barbecued—along with pasta and mixed vegetables.
The team meal is served approximately three hours before game time. "We eat together as a team to stay united," Gates says. But the Owls consume their premium fuel source roughly 15 minutes before kickoff, in the form of Gatorade Prime Energy Chews.
"Right before activity, it's really good to get in a little extra carbohydrate," says Kim Stein, senior principal scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. "It doesn't have to be a lot—about 100 calories (25 grams) or so."
Right before a game, your body is primed to break down fast-digesting sugars for fuel. Topping off muscle energy prior to activity ensures that you'll be ready to perform at your peak.
Prime Energy Chews supply exactly 100 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates, and are a source of B vitamins, which help to maintain energy.
Their new fueling strategy gives the Owls the energy they need for the strong start. "In games, we look for momentum, and this helps because it keeps our energy high," says wide receiver/cornerback Jordan Henderson.
The change in nutrition served as the catalyst for the Owls. After the final pizza night, they won six straight games to advance to the Texas State Playoffs.
The Owls are again primed for peak performance entering the 2013 season.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock