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Health Center Today, October 28, 2009

Rizzotti Shares Insight at Girls’ Sports Injury Prevention Program

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By Chris DeFrancesco

UConn basketball legend Jennifer Rizzotti stressed the importance of balance at an injury prevention program for middle school girls held October 25 at the Health Center.

“There’s no benefit as a fifth-grader to focus on only one sport,” Rizzotti said. “Make sure you keep that balance in your life. Be active, be healthy.”

An audience of mostly 10- to 13-year-old girls and their parents filled the Low Learning Center to hear Rizzotti, today the head coach of the University of Hartford women’s basketball team, talk about how an active childhood that included not just basketball, but also soccer, volleyball, track, gymnastics and dance, enhanced her athleticism and helped her avoid major injury as she developed into a star point guard.

In addition to talking about work ethic and encouraging the girls to stay focused on their academics, Rizzotti offered this advice: “Get up and eat breakfast – and that goes for the parents too!”

The program also featured presentations on injury prevention by experts from the New England Musculoskeletal Institute. Dr. Thomas Trojian emphasized the importance of jump-landing technique as a way to prevent damage to the anterior cruciate ligament. An ACL tear is a major knee injury that is more common in female athletes than it is in male athletes.

Dr. Robert Arciero said overuse injuries of the shoulder, a common problem in swimmers and throwers, often can be prevented with a combination of strength training, proper technique, and limitations on activity.

Nancy Rodriguez, director of sports nutrition at UConn, talked about how hydration and adequate calorie intake can make a noticeable difference in performance.

After the speaking portion, the girls accompanied Rizzotti on a power walk to the MARB, where she signed autographs and posed for photos, drew raffle tickets, and joined some of the youngsters at the mini-basketball hoops that were set up for the program.