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Steroids big issue at student-athlete conference

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St. John's graduate Brandon Fields, a punter at Michigan State, talks about the pressure of being a student-athlete.

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Student-athletes may feel pressure to win, to receive a scholarship, or to satisfy an overzealous parent, according to Don Adamski, substance abuse coordinator St. Luke's Hospital.

But of all the pressures and issues discussed yesterday at a student-athlete conference at Maumee High School, the topic of steroids dominated.

About 270 student-athletes from eight schools in northwest Ohio were lectured by doctors, college athletes and athletic trainers during a five-hour conference called "The Pressures of Being a Student-Athlete."

Topics ranged from time management to alcohol and drugs, but the bulk of the day was spent discussing steroids in sports.

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More than 200 students from area high schools and middle schools listen during "The Pressures of Being a Student-Athlete" conference yesterday at Maumee High School. Many questions were about the use of steroids.

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"Some of these issues in pro sports begin to filter down, and now is not too early to be talking about them," said Adamski, who coordinated the conference.

Dr. Roger Kruse, the medical director of sports care at ProMedica and head physician at the University of Toledo, teamed with ProMedica physician Dr. Chris Ranney to deliver a 45-minute speech that focused mostly on steroids statistics and the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

Kruse admitted steroids achieve the purpose of raising an athlete's level of performance, but said they cause unwanted side effects such as breast augmentation in males, depression and heart disease.

Yet, when the floor was opened for questions, one student asked if steroids would ever be legalized in the United States. Others asked about acquiring and using different performance-enhancing substances.

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Courtney Uhl, 13, an eighth-grader at Springfield Middle School, listens to the panel yesterday.

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"It's almost like they want to figure out how to do it," Kruse said.

"But I guess that's OK because it's better they're at least thinking about what they're trying to do, and it gives us a chance to educate them.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it and say steroids don't work because they do. But there's a price to pay for using them, and sooner or later it will come back to haunt you."

Todd Baden, co-owner of Synergy Sports and Fitness, and Burt Rogers, an athletic trainer at Spring Meadows West in Holland, each offered the students tips on how to eat properly and supplement their workouts without using harmful substances.

"Steroids is a big issue now," said Courtney Durbin, a three-sport athlete and junior at St. Ursula. "It's becoming more involved in sports, even in high school. There were things I learned that I didn't know before, things like just how bad steroids can be for you."

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Kruse

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Two former area high school athletes touched, but did not dwell, on the topic of steroids.

Brandon Fields, a 2002 graduate of St. John's Jesuit and a senior punter at Michigan State, and Elizabeth "Biz" Schaetzke, a 2002 Bowsher graduate and senior volleyball player at Eastern Michigan, discussed being a student-athlete in more general terms.

Schaetzke said competing in sports gave her the discipline to make good decisions in high school, but it also was important to maintain positive relationships outside of athletics.

Fields, an NFL prospect, talked about putting failure in sports in perspective.

"No matter how hard you work, things don't always go your way," he said. "It's the same as life. You've just got to keep going."

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.

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