CPSDA Meet My Mentor

Mentee Cory Eakins & Mentor Annie Lowry

Annie Lowry

"I am the RD for Western Kentucky University through the foodservice company Aramark. I am trying to gain experience in sports nutrition and create a sports nutrition program here at WKU. When Chelsea Burkart wrote in the listserv back in March about mentorship and anyone who would like to be connected with a mentor to reach out to her, I did just that. Chelsea connected me with Annie Lowry who is the former Sports RD at Tulsa. We have had multiple phone calls, emails, texts discussing how to develop a sports nutrition program and how to get more teams, coaches, and student athletes bought-in with nutrition. I continue to have struggles with getting buy-in from administration, athletic training, and a few coaching staffs, but that is not due to a lack of trying. What Annie has done for me is to help me navigate the personalities, help me learn how athletic departments work, and just keep me motivated to keep trying when I get down about coaches not responding to my multiple attempts to get involved with their team. Annie has been a great resource for me and has helped me tremendously in the short time we have known each other. I am happy to showcase what Annie has done for me and how she has helped me grow. Her advice is always spot on and encouraging! Thank you for the opportunity to share what Annie has helped me to grow in my knowledge of how athletic departments work and how to communicate within the athletic world!"





Cory Eakins, MS, RDN, LDN
WKU Dietitian

Mentee Jessica & Mentor Anthony Zamora

Anthony Zamora

"It is with great pleasure that I am able to write to highlight Anthony Zamora, dietitian and high performance chef of the Utah Jazz.  I met Anthony during my time in graduate school where he provided me with an opportunity for involvement as a part of his culinary performance staff. From the very start, Anthony welcomed my input, ideas and questions - Anthony's humble approach to continuous improvement provided an open platform for collaboration and creativity, and a foundation for growth. Anthony approaches each day and all situations with the intention of learning and progressing, and emphasized this approach to myself and his staff - Anthony demonstrates this as a mentor by being transparent, yet confident. In his leadership role, Anthony focuses on personal connection and frequent reflection. During my time working with Anthony we had weekly one-on-one meetings. Although we worked closely each day, Anthony prioritized individual and private space. Anthony began each meeting by saying "how can I help you?". Anthony focused on talking through each area of my involvement on the staff such as projects I wanted to work on, challenges I had during the week, or areas I wanted to explore whether it be discussing a new article or working on a specific cooking technique. Once a topic or goal was established, Anthony focused his efforts on helping me to map out a plan to make that happen. For example, when I wanted to gain more experience with managing a budget, Anthony dedicated time to teach me his budgeting system, and then handed over that task to me - through such pathways Anthony facilitated a way to teach me a new skill, and provided me with a role I could take ownership of to heighten my contribution to the group.

Through such frequent reflection, Anthony was truly able to challenge me in a way to foster both personal and professional advancement, which came both from high and low times of growth. During moments of "wins" or successes, Anthony challenged me to critically examine what made my efforts successful and how I could continue to apply such behaviors. During moments of "get betters" Anthony challenged me to understand where the "loss" came from, what I could do to correct it, and what I learned from the experience overall. Anthony's patience and passion for his role as a leader created a safe environment for such growth. Anthony took every opportunity to create a learning moment. Anthony often began comments with "remember when you become a director..." which always meant to me he had full belief in my ability to progress and become a strong dietitian. I valued Anthony's efforts to create these moments during my time with the Jazz, but as I have progressed into my current position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I have come to understand Anthony's efforts and appreciate them all the more. It seems almost daily I come across a situation where I think "I remember Anthony telling me about XYZ". These moments of reflection as I am continuing to gain experience in the field have come to exemplify the value in a mentor. The time, energy and endless support Anthony has, and continues to provide me with have been undeniably priceless in my progression as a person and professional.

When I think of all of the priceless lessons, experiences and opportunities Anthony provided me with, there is one moment in particular that always comes to mind that I believe demonstrates Anthony's mentorship style. One morning while preparing breakfast for the team, Anthony had to step out for a meeting. He asked me to make any omelet orders that came in while he was away. Knowing I was not overly confident in my omelet making skills, before he stepped out Anthony said, "remember, if you get scared, just make it a scramble!". This memory always brings a smile to my face and a sense of reassurance to overcome any obstacles I might face and to not let minor flaws detract progress each day.

Anthony's attention to detail, focus on creating an elite experience for the athletes he serves and the staff he works with, and dedication to continuous improvement has provided the most significant impact on my growth and are areas I am forever grateful to have gained experience under Anthony's support!"

Jessica, CPSDA Member
Performance Nutrition Intern
Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Mentee Sakiko Minagawa & Mentor Jessica Napolitano 

Jessica Napolitano

"My name is Sakiko Minagawa. I am the registered dietitian at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) in the Sports Medicine department. It is my pleasure to recognize my wonderful mentor, Jess Napolitano.

I first met Jess when I was her intern in 2018. Since the first day I met her, I was inspired by her passion in helping adolescent athletes with nutrition. Jess was the first registered dietitian for the Sports Medicine department at NCH and started the sports nutrition program in 2012. As she took a step back from the full time position in 2020,  I was provided this wonderful opportunity and challenge to continue and build the sports nutrition program she had started.

Starting a new job during a pandemic with so much change and uncertainty was scary to say the least. However, Jess was determined to help me. Jess helped me with the onboarding process for over a month and continues to support me through weekly meetings. She provided me with helpful resources and introduced me to so many wonderful healthcare providers within and outside of NCH. She helped me realize that I was not alone. I had a community of people who were going to help me learn, grow, and be successful as a RD.

Jess is a wonderful mentor who cares about my career as a RD as well as a person outside of work. She emphasizes the importance of work life balance and to appreciate everyday as it is. I am very thankful to have such an experienced and knowledgable person as my mentor. She is patient, kind, and knows just the right thing to say to help build my confidence as a dietitian. I cannot thank her enough. Thank you Jess!!!"






Sakiko Minagawa, MS, RDN, LD
Clinical Dietitian at Nationwide Children's Hospital


Mentee Bianca Paulus & Mentor Emma Willingham

Emma Willingham

"My name is Bianca Paulus and I am a Graduate Student and Dietetic Intern at the University of Southern California completing a coordinated didactic program. It is with great pleasure and pride that I highlight my mentor, Emma Willingham MS,RD. Through the short time we have known each other, Emma has impacted me greatly and helped build my foundation in becoming a Sports Dietitian.

I first met Emma during a presentation she gave to me and my fellow classmates during the summer of 2020. From the moment she presented I knew she was someone I wanted to get to know and learn from. Throughout her presentation it was clear she was extremely passionate and knowledgeable about sports nutrition and wanted to make a true impact among the athletes she worked with. I quickly reached out and she has been a true mentor and friend ever since. I had known that I wanted to pursue a career in sports nutrition for quite some time but I felt extremely lost in what path I needed to take to begin building a strong foundation. This became exacerbated when COVID-19 hit and I felt defeated in my journey. After speaking with Emma and expressing my frustration, she immediately shared her experience with the SNIP program and how impactful it was to her knowledge and application in sports nutrition. She encouraged me to apply and I am so grateful she did. Emma was also quick to connect me to Paige Crawford - Team Dietitian to the Los Angeles Chargers who was in need of an intern for the 2020 season. Through this connection I was able to immerse myself with a professional team, take on the role as the 2020 performance nutrition intern and learn the skills needed to become a great sports RD.

Emma is always willing to help, constantly making time to connect with me, a wonderful guide in my life and I am so grateful to her. She answers all questions and concerns I bring to her with complete transparency and has been a great shoulder to lean on during challenging personal times. I could not have come this far in my sports dietitian journey without her and can not say it enough -she is awesome! ​Emma currently works as an outpatient RD at Houston Methodist Hospital and through her private practice, ​Fuel with Emma​ , sees patients for exercise nutrition."






Bianca Paulus
CPSDA Student Member


Mentee Christina Chu & Mentor Andrea Rudser-Rusin

Andrea Rudser-Rusin

"As a new RD who was starting her career while moving to a new city in the heat of a worldwide pandemic, finding a mentor was a blessing. Andrea Rudser-Rusin, a sports nutrition consultant and professor, was generous enough to accept me under her wing to provide me with the local support and guidance I needed to get my foot in the door of athletics. Specifically, Andrea fostered a supportive, nonjudgemental environment where I was free to ask any and all questions about owning a business, sports nutrition, counseling, networking, job hunting, and more. She hosted study groups with me while preparing for her CSSD recertification exam, supervised a mock client session, reinforced the importance of exercise physiology knowledge in sports nutrition, and provided me with the boost of confidence I needed in a new environment.

Bigger than the mentorship actions that Andrea did, she was someone that made me feel seen. I will never forget when Andrea and I first met in-person and we just kept talking over each other since we were so similar! It was reassuring to see that you don't have to fit into a typical "dietitian mold" to be a high-level dietitian like she is. She utilizes her strengths from her athletic training background and applies it to sports dietetics. In detail, she widened my perspective in that evidence-based protocols do not change regardless of a name on a jersey or the skill-level of a player. Everyone needs care and there will always be a space for dietitians, so long as you make yourself seen. This is something I still hold with me and drives the actions I take daily to open my own doors to kickstart my career.
Andrea was my rock throughout my consulting business and building my small business. She would check in with me, send me job openings, and reinforce the actions that I've taken to move this field forward. In doing so, she has inspired me to mentor other dietitians, dietetic interns, and nutrition students, as I am now a preceptor partnering with a local university. Her selflessness from the day she accepted my LinkedIn request to present day is something that I am eternally grateful for. I hope that other recent graduates and new dietitians are able to search for a mentor like Andrea and pay it forward to our ever evolving field."


Christina Chu, MS, RDN, LDN

Performance Dietitian Consultant
Owner, Christina Chu Nutrition LLC



Mentee Auburn Weisensale & Mentor Randy Bird

Randy Bird

Right out of undergrad I emailed Randy Bird at UVA to see if I could shadow him or even volunteer over the summer. He said he didn’t take those who shadow, but I could volunteer. After day 1 of
volunteering, the rest was history. I couldn’t wait to go back the next day and every day after that.
Randy took me under his wing and taught me so much about sports nutrition and the value of full-time dietitians in the collegiate setting. I am so grateful for the opportunity he gave me to work with him that summer.

Randy has not only helped me grow into my current role at Pitt, but also in my current position on the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport (CSMAS) as the sports dietitian representative.

I have Randy to thank for mentoring me into the sports RD I am today.

Auburn Weisensale, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Assistant Athletic Director, Performance Nutrition
University of Pittsburgh