Get in the gatorade


Talia Sankari

Soccer player, Wells Doughary, junior, takes a break from practice and uses his catered Gatorade formula to re-hydrate.

As training comes to a close sweat cascades down the players’ foreheads. Droplets fly from their soaked hair with each step. With dripping jerseys they leave the field and retreat to where a team of professionals from Gatorade’s Sports Science Institution are waiting. So who are these athletes? The Chicago Blackhawks? The White Sox? The Cubs? No, the elite athletes participating in this program are the Hinsdale Central boys varsity soccer and girl’s varsity volleyball team.

Jeremy Yi, a junior on boys varsity soccer, said “A team of about five or six members from Gatorade came to Hinsdale Central one day to perform a sweat test. [In the test] patches are attached to your arms for the duration of the practice, and at the end are recollected and sent to a lab to be analyzed.”

“Each player on the men’s soccer team has been sweat tested by scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) to determine individual sweat rate and electrolyte loss,” explained Gatorade’s Senior Marketing Manager Drew Palin. “Based on these factors, as well as the intensity and duration of the practice or game, each player is recommended a specific Gatorade formula and amount of that Gatorade formula to make sure they are fueling themselves with enough carbohydrates and properly replacing the electrolytes lost in sweat.”

Members of the Barrington, Illinois GSSI facility, where the 22 sweat tests from varsity soccer are sent, have published research papers in hydration, training, and sports nutrition and created the Gatorade In Car Drinking system that NASCAR drivers use. In addition to working with Hinsdale Central sports teams GSSI Illinois works with players like Eli Manning, Dwyane Wade, and numerous pro football teams.

“Three Gatorade employees and or agency partners visit the soccer team every two to three weeks to ensure testing is done in a variety of weather and situational conditions.The goal of the program is to help optimize athletic performance,” Palin said.

The drinks that players are supplied with come in pods of different concentrations signified by M or L. For example, the pods used by Varsity defender Max Snodgrass are 6M and the aforementioned Jeremy Yi uses 6L. The varsity boys soccer and varsity girl’s volleyball team are some of the first people, aside from CBF, the Brazilian National Soccer team, to ever use these products which are currently unavailable to the general public.

“We are always encouraged to make use of the pods whenever possible. Each bottle is specific to the player because it has Hinsdale Central and their number labeled on it,” Yi said.

The bottles are filled with water by the athletes and the pods are inserted into a mechanism in the top that breaks the pod’s seal and mixes it into the water. But it’s not all fancy formulas and carefully calibrated cocktails. A variety of flavors are available for athletes to choose from, ranging from Gatorade classics like Lemon Lime to Fruit Punch.

The amount of Gatorade each player should drink is determined by the information received by a scale GSSI installed. The scale has an electronic interface that allows players to access their personal account, complete with a password. Athletes are expected to weigh themselves before practice and tell the scale how intense of an exercise the athlete expects to do. The scale will then tell the player how much Gatorade to drink and afterwards they weigh themselves once more to analyze the effects of drinking the required amount.

The girls’ varsity volleyball team is also a part of this pilot program. Gatorade provides bandages for the girls to wear on their arms during practice to gauge the composition of their sweat. With this data they can ensure that each student gets what they need to perform to their potential.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Emily Knutson, a junior on the girl’s varsity volleyball team, “It’s great to think that out of all the high schools they picked ours.”

The GSSI boasts that the Gatorade is extremely effective in hydrating athletes so that they can play better, and longer, than anyone else on the field. GSSI insists that its formula is the most effective in replenishing the salts and electrolytes lost by athletes during vigorous exercise.

“The Gatorade has helped keep us well hydrated during our games and practices which helps prevent cramping. Before the Gatorade, guys didn’t hydrate as much during practice, so there was more cramping. But since we’ve started this new program, everyone is drinking more at practice. The Gatorade also helps replenish the sodium we lost while sweating, so we don’t get light headed as much.” said Varsity soccer player Jim Walker.

After Hinsdale Central’s boys soccer team clenched the state title last year there’s no denying they’ve painted targets on their backs. Targets that caught the attention of GSSI. Now the formula they provided could prove invaluable in giving Central the edge to make a repeat performance at this year’s state championship.

“The Hinsdale Soccer team is a great team to work with, especially since players and coaches are both genuinely engaged. We hope the athletes and coaches learn about the importance of hydration and its impact on performance,” Palin said.