Benjy Egel is a journalism freshman and Mustang Daily Sports Columnist.
Matt Fisher has outdone the “Freshman 15.” In just one quarter at Cal Poly, he has gained 25 pounds. And his coaches couldn’t be happier.
As an offensive lineman on the football team, Fisher resembles an Escalade more than a Prius. That weight gain means that there are 290 pounds packed into his 6-foot-4 frame. Were it not for his size, Fisher might be confused for a hobbit purely based on his eating habits. He eats five meals a day — breakfast, a large snack, lunch, another large snack and dinner, plus an after-dinner snack if needed.
“Since you’re kind of always working out, and working out, you kind of get hungry a lot. It kind of just comes with it,” he said. “Bigger boys eat more food, I guess.”
All freshmen living in dorms must have a meal plan, and athletes are no exception. Fisher is on the Freedom Plan, which provides eight meals per week and 525 Plu$ Dollars per quarter.
The plan is not meant for students eating five meals a day, though. Fisher had to buy more and more Plu$ Dollars as the quarter progressed.
“Once all the meals are gone, I had to go with my Plu$ Dollars,” he said. “Getting a whole meal on the Plu$ Dollars really took out of it.”
Even when he wasn’t working out, Fisher was working up an appetite. As a construction management student, his classes were unusually spread out, making every day a mini-backpacking trip. Fisher frequently ate at whatever dining option was closest to his classroom, so he was often unable to fill up on the buffet at 19 Metro Station.
“There’s only one all-you-can-eat place on campus,” he said. “I have a lot of classes, and I kind of have to keep going around, so it’s hard to get one place like Metro to get more food.”
As a public school, Cal Poly is economically unable to provide the same athletic dining options as private schools.
Stanford University, for instance, boasts its “Performance Dining” program, in which athletes are fed sport-specific meals high in antioxidants to maximize their performance.
Fisher was recruited by the United States Military Academy at West Point, where all cadets eat three meals together every day at the same time.
While the dining plans at Cal Poly provide more flexibility, Fisher believes there is room for improvement. He would like to see more nutritious foods available for a lower price.
“I would actually make, personally, the more healthier foods just cheaper,” Fisher said. “It’s like four bucks for a cup of fruit. Or if I want a yogurt or something like that, it’s just more expensive.”
While Fisher’s added weight has been helpful on the field, one of his teammates suffered the opposite fate. A fellow freshman lineman has dropped 30 pounds since starting his meal plan, Fisher said. Instead of a spot on The Biggest Loser, this lineman found a spot on the bench when he became too light to block effectively.
Few athletes monitor their weight like wrestlers, who often have tight weight classes they need to squeeze into.
Junior Dominic Kastl will wrestle at 174 pounds this year, but like most wrestlers, he walks around campus a little heavier than that. When the next match comes around, Kastl starts dropping weight like a post-pregnancy Kate Moss. After his last match, he starts packing it back on.
“Gaining weight kind of comes easy to me,” Kastl said. “Just eat a lot of protein. Losing weight’s a little harder. Staying to a strict diet. A lot less carbs, more protein, a ton of water, and just being really, really active.”
While Kastl is no longer on a meal plan, he still eats on campus about twice a day. Many of his preferred eateries are close to his kinesiology classes and the Recreation Center.
“I like The Avenue a lot,” Kastl said. “It has a good salad bar. Chick-fil-A’s pretty good too, and the sandwich place (City Deli Sandwiches). And I like Subway.”
When eating at home, Kastl often loads up on protein with eggs and yogurt for breakfast, gets some carbs with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and adds more protein with a dinner of chicken and rice. Kastl has learned not to eat too much, especially after a tournament at which he showed up well over the weight limit.
“We showed up to the tournament at four, and I had to lose ten pounds by six the next morning,” he said. “So that one sucked a lot.”
Losing 10 pounds overnight was apparently manageable for Kastl, though certainly not easy.
“Lots of running. Just put on my sweats and started running,” he said. “I did like four or five workouts, like 10 miles, 12 miles. It was a lot.”