Jeanie Subach, M.A., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N.
Subach, a member of the classes of ’84, ’89, is a sports nutritionist who works with the Philadelphia Eagles and the 76ers, and with the men’s basketball team at St. Joseph’s University. She is an instructor at West Chester University; at IU she teaches online courses for undergrads and special topics in the graduate program in nutrition. She is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, one of the first 49 people in the United States to obtain that credential. She is a licensed dietitian and nutritionist with a B.S. in dietetics and a master’s in nutrition education, and she is working toward her doctorate in educational leadership.
Subach’s interest in dietetics—and Immaculata—was sparked by her encounter with Betsy Foley, an IU graduate and dietitian at a local hospital. “She was a wonderful person,” said Subach. “She loved what she did and was good at what she did. Immaculata was one of the few schools that offered a degree in dietetics, and it was the best school you could go to for it.”
Subach, who teaches nutrition at West Chester, tries to instill in her students the kind of integrity and discipline that she was expected to adhere to at IU. “We were prepared for the professional world; we were taught that a deadline is a deadline, grammar is grammar. We were prepared for public speaking in almost every single class because we were required to give oral presentations from freshman year on. We were groomed to be in a professional setting. We weren’t just taught things; we were taught how to effectively communicate what we know.”
Subach remembers an education course with Sister Mary Lalande, and how when it was your turn to present, “you were scared to death.” After Subach had given one such class presentation, “Sister pulled me aside and said, ‘I guess you think you’re going to get an A, but you’ll get an A- and I’ll tell you why.’’ Sister Lalande went on to explain that one of Subach’s typewriter keys needed cleaning because it was leaving a smear. “She also told me exactly what store to go to for the cleaning fluid so I could fix the problem,” said Subach. “Attention to detail? Yes, we learned it.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s, Subach went into food services in the Abington School District, then went to work for Villanova University. It was then that she decided to pursue her master’s at IU with the idea of moving from food services manager to dietitian for Villanova. “But then,” said Subach, “I was in a car accident, and I ended up doing physical therapy at Sports Physical Therapists, which was owned by Pat Croce.”
After about six months of therapy, a part-time position opened for a wellness dietitian, and Subach began working for Croce. She ended up leaving Villanova to work full-time with Sports Physical Therapists, where she was a dietitian for the 76ers and the Flyers. She went part-time again when her three daughters came along, but when the company was sold and became NovaCare Rehabilitation, it acquired a contract with the Eagles, and Subach began her affiliation with them.
“I think the secret to my success with the professional athletes is that I’m a dietitian first and a fan second,” said Subach. “When I go down there, my job is nutrition counseling, not to get autographs or talk about what happened at the game. It’s to take care of their nutritional needs.”
In a normal season with the Eagles, “We do a rookie seminar in the spring,” said Subach. “When new players come, we do a nutritional overview, and I work closely with the strength and conditioning coach.
“I review all the menus for training camp, and during the season I’m at the training facility once a week, right there in the cafeteria with the players,” said Subach. “It’s a visual for them, that nutrition has a presence when they see Jeanie sitting at the back of the cafeteria.”
Subach also writes the nutrition segment for their off-season training manual and works with the team’s executive chef. “Steve is just wonderful. He is very accommodating in honoring my requests for the players,” said Subach.
According to Subach, the toughest part of her job is counteracting “nutrition in the media.” She knows people want a quick fix, to rely on supplements or that “magic bullet,” but she also knows that “results come from hard work, training, and proper nutrition.”
What Subach finds most gratifying “is seeing people have the confidence to change their diet based on the education I gave them…when you counsel someone and then they have that nutrition thing down.”
Another reward Subach cherishes is when former students stay in touch. “When I hear from students I may have had 10 years ago,” said Subach, “because they remembered something from my class or they just got a promotion, and now we’ve become colleagues—that’s something special.”