Independence High Receives Chocolate Milk Cooler

Southeast Dairy Association - Independence High School Wildcats Football Team
Photo Caption: Independence High School coaching staff, Mississippi dairy farmers and members of the Wildcats football team celebrate the school’s new chocolate milk cooler from the Coolers for Coaches program. From left to right: Top Row – Coach Jim Tom Copeland, Coaching Intern Dee Cathey; Middle Row – Mississippi dairy farmers Michael Ferguson, Barney Taylor and Dudley Taylor and Head Coach Richard Russo; Bottom Row – Wildcat seniors Takoda Saulsberry, Taneilus Saulsberry, Josh Watson, Jaren King and Zykeris Mosley.

June 27, 2016

COLDWATER, Miss. – The Independence High School Wildcats will go into the 2016-2017 football season with a new secret weapon: cold chocolate milk. The school was recently the recipient of a free chocolate milk cooler through the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association, Inc. (SUDIA) Coolers for Coaches™ program.

The Coolers for Coaches program connects local dairy farmers with school athletic programs and provides free, glass-front chocolate milk coolers to help athletes meet their nutrition needs off the field. With more protein, less sugar and fewer calories than traditional sports drinks, chocolate milk is an ideal recovery beverage after tough games and workouts.

Wildcats Head Football Coach Richard Russo said he learned about the Coolers for Coaches program during a recent high school sports coaching clinic and that the new cooler provides convenient nutrition for his athletes.

“It was important for our athletic department to pursue the opportunity to receive a free milk cooler,” said Russo. “For our student athletes, access to good nutrition is a real challenge, especially in rural Mississippi, where the majority of kids receive free and reduced meals. A tremendous amount of research shows that chocolate milk is better than other products on the market [for recovery].

“The free chocolate milk cooler and the access for our athletes is a tremendous blessing for us,” Russo added. “The cafeteria is too far away and to have the cooler in the weight room allows us to provide chocolate milk to the athletes quickly, so their bodies can recover after weight lifting.”

Independence High School Principal Melody Carter said the new milk cooler has been an asset for the school’s athletic department, particularly because it gives student athletes access to free chocolate milk after regular school hours.

“My first thought when I heard about the Coolers for Coaches program is that it sounded like a great idea,” said Carter. “The players battle dehydration and need to replenish their body with proper nutrients. Chocolate milk certainly helps with these needs. We appreciate the Mississippi dairy farmers and SUDIA for making the cooler available to us.”

Mississippi dairy farmer Michael Ferguson worked with Independence High School to help them receive a free chocolate milk cooler. He hopes the new cooler will help the Wildcats perform better on and off the field.

“Dairy farmers have put a lot of focus on schools with programs like Coolers for Coaches, Fuel Up to Play 60 and Dairy Everywhere,” said Ferguson. “We hope that these programs provide more opportunities for students and athletes to have a healthy beverage choice and learn more about their nutritional needs for physical and mental health.

“We know the value of our product and hope this program helps students see the value as well,” Ferguson added. “We feel like dairy farmers are part of the team. Go Wildcats!”

The 2016-2017 Wildcats football season begins on Aug. 1 with mandatory practice for all football players. The first game of the season is on Aug. 12 in Bruce, Miss. against Bruce High School.

For more information about the Coolers for Coaches program, please contact SUDIA Integrated Communications Program Manager Joel Hall, at [email protected] (470) 226-3005. To learn more, visit

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