Hawks Talon GC is off to a 3-1 start, the best in franchise history, but its success isn’t coming solely from the court.
With the pandemic resulting in an increase in hours spent indoors and playing video games, the team hosted an online event earlier today to discuss the importance of health and activity. A panel that included team staff and partners described how the organization assists the roster with practicing self-care during these complicated times.
The Hawks Talon team typically averages anywhere from six to eight hours of practice a day, so for GM/head coach Wesley Acuff, it is important that his team finds a delicate balance between staying dedicated to their craft and maintaining their physical health.
“Normally, I have a few guys that like to go to LA Fitness and other gyms to play basketball,” Acuff said. “I think it’s been a bit of a challenge with everyone having to stay home, but hopefully we can get back to our regular routine because they really love sports.”
As important as it is for the players to get their repetitions on the court, the team acknowledges another integral part of their development is their diet.
“We try to get groceries to the guys every two weeks or so to make sure we keep some of those healthy options available to them since we do practice so much,” Acuff added.
This process is made easier with access to Northside Hospital Sports Medicine, a medical team that works directly with Hawks Talon GC to help the players maintain a high level of performance. The team added Northside as a partner last season.
Lauren Cicinelli, the team dietician, is a key part of the medical staff. While Cicinelli concedes there isn’t a perfect diet, she does attempt to cater to each player’s taste buds and even to their respective cooking abilities. On previous occasions, she has also taken the team to the local grocery store to pick out different foods. This hands-on approach is taken with one goal in mind: improving team productivity on the virtual hardwood.
“We’re looking at their energy levels,” Cicinelli said. “Are they able to focus and pay attention? And is their energy steady or do they drop off towards the end of a game?”
The impact Northside Hospital Sports Medicine has on the team’s success also goes beyond dietary needs. Hawks Talon GC has access to similar tools that their NBA counterparts on the Atlanta Hawks use, including a recovery lounge meant for recharging after a gruelling best-of-three series.
However, despite a profession that involves keeping your eyes fixated on a screen for hours, what happens when players close their eyes arguably matters the most. Dr. Vonda Wright, the Chief and Orthopedic Surgeon at Northside, explained that when they screen the team, they make sure to capture the players’ sleep cycle.
“When we sleep is actually genetically predetermined, so if you’re a late-night gamer, that’s when your brain is at its best,” Wright added. “If you’re playing the next morning, then those are the kind of things we need to talk through and adjust for.”
With the players stuck at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, Acuff has been grateful for the advice their medical team has provided, especially with how easy it has been lately to lose track of time. The suggestions Northside has provided could very likely be a game changer for Hawks Talon during the rest of the season.
“Sometimes we think the skill of the actual game is the only thing necessary for success,” Wright said. “Becoming a professional athlete is not only about your god given talent, it’s about how it’s developed and how you take care of your body.”
After surrounding themselves with what they feel is the right team both on and off the court, Hawks Talon GC is hoping they have whatever is needed for success when they take on the undefeated Raptors Uprising GC.