PEMBERVILLE - Brian Sabo, now known as "the milkman" around the halls of Eastwood High School, delivered some high-profile attention to his favorite refueling beverage on May 13.
Sabo was honored by the American Dairy Association for promoting the consumption of chocolate milk at an assembly at the high school.
Former Ohio State University basketball player Daequan Cook, who now plays for the NBA's Miami Heat, presented Sabo with the award.
He received a $1,000 check and the "Got Milk?" award through the Body By Milk Campaign.
"It was a bit overwhelming for me," Sabo said. "It was neat having Daequan there. The kids were excited. It was a lot of attention. It was more about the kids. I gave them an opportunity and they are the ones [who] took off with it."
Sabo is Eastwood's coach of strength and conditioning for all boys and girls athletics at Eastwood. He also is an assistant track coach and junior high football coach.
Sabo said he is always researching methods to help the physical well-being of the students.
"I came across [the milk research] three or four years ago," Sabo said.
He said he always knew the benefits of milk-based protein drinks.
But, Sabo said, some of those shakes cost $3.
"The price of chocolate milk is 50 cents," he said.
Sabo said chocolate milk immediately puts the right amount of carbohydrates into the body.
"It helps start the recovery process," he said.
Sabo said many children don't feel like eating a sandwich or anything of substance right after working out.
"It's the liquidity [of milk] that helps them," he said. "It has all the right things they need."
Chris Fahim, athletic director of Eastwood, said the high levels of protein in chocolate milk help aid in muscle recovery.
"Brian has been preaching that for quite some time and the kids have taken to it," he said.
Sabo was selected from over 75 candidates throughout the nation and was named the recipient of the award for the month of March.
"For being a small, rural school it was quite an exciting event to have a pro basketball player speak to our kids," Fahim said.
Sabo was presented the $1,000 award in the form of an oversized check in front of Eastwood' middle and high school students.
"They gave me one of those big checks. I felt like a pro golfer," Sabo said.
Sabo, who is the Eastwood Middle School physical education teacher, also teaches a fitness class at the high school.
He's also an assistant coach for the Eastwood track teams that have dominated the Suburban Lakes League over the last decade. Both the boys and girls teams have won 10 straight SLL titles.
"It's them buying into the weight room and what this will do to help the body grow and recover faster," Sabo said. "They've run with it. Many of the parents have told me their son or daughter doesn't drink pop anymore."
Fahim said school officials will let Sabo decide where the money should go.
"It will go right back in the weight room," Sabo said.
The national "Got Milk?" campaign is sponsored by the Milk Processor Education Program, which is funded by the country's milk processors. The Body By Milk Campaign has teamed up with the NBA. Cook, the spokesman for the organization, has been in the NBA for three years after playing one season at Ohio State.
"He was real genuine and good to talk to," Sabo said.
Sabo, who has been in the Eastwood district for 10 years, purchased a vending machine to dispense cold milk products in the high school gym two years ago.
"It distributes milk to students and is readily available after workouts," Fahim said.
Sabo said he wanted the young athletes to get 200 calories quickly after workouts or games.
"I figured if I preached it, I had to make it accessible to them," Sabo said. "If they're a little hungry after school, they can buy it. It built from there."
Sabo, who grew up in the Canton area and attended GlenOak High School, ran cross county and competed in track there. He also competed in the pole vault for the Bowling Green State University track and field team.
"The best part about chocolate milk is that it is cheap and it makes me feel like I'm 7 years old again," Sabo said. "They call me the milkman now."
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Brian Sabo, now known as "the milkman" around the halls of Eastwood High School, delivered some high-profile attention to his favorite refueling beverage on May 13.