Kevin Hanifan admittedly had reservations when he first heard about it at the New York State High School Football Coaches Association Conference.
“I was listening to the presentation during one of the clinic sessions and I was thinking about a player coming off the field after a hot August practice, being thirsty and needing to rejuvenate. Is it the best for our kids to have a heavy, creamy drink then? How will that fly?”
Now, two seasons later, chocolate milk continues to fly sky high within his program.
Hanifan is the longtime head football coach at Kellenberg Memorial High School, a parochial school in Uniondale, Long Island. And before the 2018 season, he established chocolate milk as a refueling drink for his players following games and practices.
His initial reservations were ultimately drowned out by the excited reactions of his players.
“I work with our cafeteria staff to prepare menus and drinks for our players,” Hanifan explained. “I asked them for 20-ounce cartons of chocolate milk, two cartons per kid per day, cold. We took our team coolers, loaded them with ice and had the chocolate milk ready to go after practice.
“As the kids came off the field, I handed them one each. Next thing I know, I see the same kids coming back up a few minutes later. They loved it so much that they were coming back for second helpings of chocolate milk. That was such a cool thing for me to see that after that first practice with chocolate milk. That told me we had to keep this going. It has all the nutrients the kids need to refuel and, on top of that, they love it. How can you lose?”
Hanifan is a self-proclaimed “chocolate milk guy.” For as long as he can remember, he’s enjoyed it.
But it wasn’t until he met representatives from American Dairy Association North East at the coaches conference that he truly understood the what the essential nutrients in chocolate can do for an athlete’s body and the refueling power it has.
“I was listening to all these different presentations about these new sports drinks, and then I listened to the one about chocolate milk,” Hanifan explained. “The gist was that chocolate milk has been around forever and it works. You don’t have to spend time inventing new drinks or thinking of new ways to refuel your players. Chocolate milk is right in front of you, it’s delicious, and it works. That really stuck out to me and that’s what really started to get the wheels turning for me.”
The results have been evident for Hanifan. He has seen the popularity of chocolate milk among his players and even told a story about how during a practice, his team went through 120 bottles of chocolate milk and were left searching for more because the kitchen staff had run out. He also told another story about how the players went into the cafeteria and specifically asked the kitchen staff for their chocolate milk because the staff forgot to bring it out after practice one day.
It's all the proof Hanifan needs to champion chocolate milk to his fellow coaches.
“I would say absolutely go get it,” he said. “I would not hesitate in the least to tell another coach to go and put chocolate milk on your sideline and in your locker room. It’s tasty, it’s refreshing and it has everything the players could ever need. There is no downside."
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.