Dietetic Career Spotlight: Kim Tirapelle, MS, RD, CSSD, Sports Dietitian
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on APRIL 3, 2012
Interested in Sports Dietetics and working with professional athletes? Meet Kim Tirapelle, MS, RD, CSSD, and learn how she combined her love of sports and her love of nutrition to assist athletes in optimizing their performance through their nutrition.
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I was an athlete growing up, therefore, I had a natural interest in learning more about optimizing performance through nutrition. I remember meeting with our Team Dietitian at the University of Illinois when I played soccer there and thought- wow, what a great job!! That started me on my path to becoming a Sports Dietitian.
Your Job Title?
Company you are with now?
TERRIO Physical Therapy & Fitness, Inc. and Fresno State University – I teach Sports Nutrition and I am the Team Dietitian for Fresno State Athletics.
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you.
I work full-time for TERRIO. However, two days a week, I start my day by teaching Sports Nutrition at Fresno State. Throughout each day, I am meeting with clients individually to help them create a customized nutrition plan to meet their nutrition goals. I not only work with athletes of all levels, but I also provide weight management and medical nutrition therapy to clients with specific diagnoses. At least once a week, after work, I head over to Fresno State to meet individually with athletes or give team presentations. I also lead grocery store tours for our athletes and do cooking demonstrations. Lastly, 3 days a week, I train a half marathon team. No day is ever the same!
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I was hired at TERRIO in September of 2010. I currently work in a 24,000 sq ft training facility that incorporates Physical Therapy, Exercise training and fitness training, as well as I provide nutrition for all of our clients. We work with many professional athletes, as well as high school and collegiate athletes hoping to make it to the next level. I was lucky that I was in a transition from my job at a local hospital when TERRIO decided to open up this new training facility in Fresno. It was a natural fit for me. I have been teaching at Fresno State and working with the athletes the last 2 years as well. At first, I volunteered my nutrition services for the Fresno State athletes, but now I am a paid consultant for the program.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I have always been a leader and can communicate well with others. I think those are some of my biggest strengths. Skills I have learned along the way include honing my public speaking skills, as well as being able to work with a wide variety of athletes in developing customized nutrition programs to meet their individual needs.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
I would probably say that you never know where your career may take you. You will likely not start in your dream job, but each position will make you a more well-rounded person. I started off in a clinical dietitian role in a hospital, and even though I knew it wasn’t my dream job, I was able to gain critical clinical skills that have made me a better dietitian when working with athletes with specific diagnoses such as Type I Diabetes or Celiac disease and many others. I then took a job in an outpatient corporate wellness program where I developed the nutrition program with one other dietitian. It took a lot of hard work and volunteering of my time and networking to get the positions I currently hold. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world! Put in the time, and you will see the benefits pay off.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
I really love when I see my athletes succeed on the field and reach their goals. That makes my job very fulfilling. That’s a great “paycheck” so to speak. But, because my family is back in the Midwest, I wouldn’t mind being paid in travel dollars so I could visit with them more often!