Hannah Holstein had a wonderful experience wearing the red and white track uniform of her beloved Mansfield Tigers way back in 2013. She took that positive time in her life and continued to run for both the UA Fort Smith Lions and the University of Central Arkansas Bears.
That continuation of her next level cross country and track career turned it into a college degree. Now with that degree in hand, Holstein found time to give back to the school that started it all.
On August 28, Holstein came back to the familiar hallways of Mansfield High School where she attended school and won the 2012 individual class 3A State Championship in cross country. This time she was not wearing her old Tiger track and field suit. Neither was she wearing a blue Lion outfit or a purple UCA Bear uniform. This time she was wearing a set of blue scrubs indicative of her new job with Baptist Health.
Holstein was asked by her former high school coach, John Mackey, if she would come talk to his cross country team about proper nutrition. You see, Holstein is now a licensed dietician and nutritionist for Baptist Health. Her expertise deals with properly fueling the body for healthy living and activity.
Holstein jumped at the chance. After several attempts to coordinate calendars, player and coach made arrangements for her to give a talk to the current Tiger team on a Wednesday afternoon.
“I had lots of fun,” said Holstein about her experience talking in front of the 30 or so Tiger athletes. “It was a privilege to go back to my alma mater and see the athletes of today. I was able to share some sports nutrition principles with the cross country track team that I learned throughout my education to be a dietitian and I now apply to my own training.
The former high school state champion resonated well with the Mansfield kids. Not too many years their senior, she was able to connect with the audience in an insightful and entertaining way. Hitting on topics such as the what, where, and why to eat certain foods, Holstein gave helpful advice to a group that strives to be champions just like the former Tiger.
“It was very helpful,” stated Tiger sophomore Ethan Chapman. “I learned a lot.” Chapman was Mansfield’s most decorated male cross country runner a year ago and the 2018 male cross country athlete of the year. Sophomore Harleigh Mars had this to say. “She’s proven that she knows what she’s talking about. Look at her credentials. That’s proof enough.”
Teammates Faith Rainwater and McKenzie Griffin echoed the same perception taken by Mars. With near synchronized head shakes to confirm their teammate’s comment, the two sophomore runners heartily agreed.
Rainwater said her mother was willing to put some of Holstein’s advice into action right away. “Mom’s already going to buy some peanut butter crackers for snacks,” said Rainwater after hearing the lesson to add extra protein sources throughout the day. “I think we learned some good things to help us better prepare nutrition wise.
“I think the players will take her advice,” noted Mackey. “As we went to afterschool practice that day, they were already talking about eating the healthy snacks before and after workouts. They paid attention to her advice on proper hydration and preparing the body for competition. It was really good.”
Holstein didn’t come empty handed on the day of the talk. She brought some gift bag items for every player and handed out special prizes for those that could answer questions embedded into her power point presentation.
“It was fulfilling to look back on my time as a Mansfield Tiger and reflect on all I learned while I was able to compete in cross country and track there,” announced Holstein. “I am thankful for Coach Mackey and Coach Frye who worked hard to provide me with the training and race opportunities needed to prepare me for my college career. I look forward to coming back again soon.”
Tim Cothran, the head football coach at Mansfield, took notes when talking to Mackey the day after the special presentation. “We may want her to come back in the spring to talk to some of our football kids,” stated Cothran. “It can help all the programs.”