Coincidentally my path to the power of cherries has come full circle to where it all began, on the North end of Torch Lake, just a couple miles from King Orchards. I grew up in Eastport, Michigan, a couple miles from each of King Orchards two farm stands. I went to school with the King family and played sports with their kids. I started running in high school in the wake of Ryan Shay and competed with another Hall of Famer Stephan Shay at Central Lake High School. After which I ran cross-country and track at Hope College. I spent the summers training in the hills around the orchards and admittedly stopped on multiple occasions to grab some red gold off the trees in middle of my runs. I became a reasonably good regional class runner in college and went on to start running marathons immediately after college with a personal best of 2:38. During my studies I went from Hope College to Colorado State University to get a Master’s degree in Exercise Science then a PhD from Auckland University ofTechnology in Auckland, New Zealand.
During my time in New Zealand I had the opportunity to work with several National Sporting Organizations as well as the equivalent of the US Olympic Training Center in New Zealand. There I discovered what sport science was and the idea of using research to optimize or improve sport performance. This research can take many different forms from investigating different training methods or using various ergogenic aids (legal ergogenic aids) to may enhance performance or speed recovery from training. It wasn’t until I returned back the US and took at job at Grand Valley State University that I had an epiphany about the potential of cherries, or specifically cherry juice concentrate, to enhance running performance while actually reading about it in a magazine. I’m certainly not the first person to think of this and a number of researchers have already begun investigating the effect of cherries in clinical and athletic populations. This is an area I am also pursing specifically in runners to determine the effects of cherry concentrate on recovery and ultimately enhancing running performance.
Currently, in addition serving as an assistant professor at GVSU, I am an assistant coach with the GVSU cross country and track teams as well as training for several marathons each year myself.