Recently, Mississippi State Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine and Performance Mary McLendon asked a current Bulldog football student-athlete to describe Pamela Bartz. His reply spoke volumes about the dedication Bartz, MSU’s Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Nutrition, brings with her to work every single day.
“She loves her job more than anyone in the world,” McLendon said was the player’s response. “All of us listening were like, ‘Yep. That sounds right.’”
Bartz’s passion shines through in all she does.
She has overseen the nutrition needs for the student-athletes of all 16 State sports since 2018. Bartz is a behind-the-scenes hero that helps make sure the Bulldogs are ready to go, whether it’s for a gameday or for offseason workouts and recovery.
She pours her all into not just instructing student-athletes on what to eat, but why.
“No one is going to do something just because you say to do it,” Bartz explained. “They need to know the why…It’s helping them know, ‘Why do I want to eat X, Y or Z before practice, and why do I want to eat this after?’”
It’s a detailed, individualized process, all with the goal of keeping all Dawgs in tip-top shape.
“No. 1 in our job as dieticians is health and well-being,” Bartz said. “And what’s big about my job is learning every individual and what works best for one may not work for someone else.”
Very few in the country are as experienced and knowledgeable about the process as Bartz. A national champion powerlifter in her college days at LSU, Bartz earned both exercise science, as well as nutrition and dietetics degrees a little over a decade ago in Baton Rouge. The Cleveland, Ohio, native has since gone on to work in a number of athletic departments, including Tennessee, Samford and Colorado State.
Along the way, Bartz has developed nutritional plans for virtually every sport you could imagine, from rowing, to wrestling to football – which is her primary focus in Starkville.
Bartz is also a bit of a trailblazer as she’s grown MSU’s sports nutrition department tremendously.
“When I first got here, it was just myself and a graduate assistant,” she said. “Now we have two directors of Olympic sport nutrition, along with two sports nutrition fellows. It’s all expanded a lot.”
But what’s her proudest accomplishment?
“I think it’s honestly the relationships built with the student-athletes,” Bartz said. “They trust me enough to know I’m not just telling them things, but that they will feel energized and explosive enough to do what the coaches tell them to do. They can use the fuel I’m providing them to allow them to be more successful than they thought they could be.”
It’s obvious the players appreciate Bartz’s care. Several months back, a player actually chose his groom’s cake flavor at his wedding because he knew it was one she would approve of.
It spoke to how special Bartz is at what she does and how lucky Mississippi State is to have her.
“She is amazing,” McLendon said. “I don’t think you’ll find anyone in any career more passionate about the job they do. It’s amazing the passion she has for the welfare of the student-athletes, not only as competitors, but also keeping them healthy and preparing them for life after graduation, too.”