Two Athletes Combine Their Talents

14-Meg Mangano field hockeyBy SUE PASCOE, Editor



Dynamic, confident, funny and intelligent. Two women attribute those personality traits to the athletic playing field and the lessons learned on it. Now, two-time Olympic soccer gold medalist Angela Hucles and L.A. Clippers nutritionist Meg Mangano have combined their talents to start a new company, Fueling Dynamic Leaders.

The company is designed as a nutrition, leadership and wellness program for female athletes and presents an online education series that includes videos, workbook guides and a support system that help promote strength and healthy lifestyle practices.

Hucles and Mangano, who lived in the Highlands before moving to Santa Monica, hosted a webinar for high school students in early April: “The Top Five Ways to Prepare for College That Doesn’t Involve Study.”

Topics included standing out as a student-athlete, resting one’s way to success, being a leader, hydrating to decrease risk of injury and how to time fueling around training without getting sick.

“What you put in your body influences how you play,” said Mangano, who over the last 10 years has become board certified in sports dietetics. “Our emphasis is on fueling for a sport and the recovery by athletes.”

Mangano, who grew up in Saratoga, New York, had played basketball and soccer, but once she picked up a lacrosse stick, “I loved it as soon as I started playing it.”

She played lacrosse (midfield and attack) at the University of New Hampshire, while majoring in nutritional sciences. After graduating, she landed a nine-month dietetic internship at San Diego State that enabled her to become accredited.

14-Angela Hucles soccerMangano emphasizes the importance of proper diet for an athlete.

“Hydration is the most impactful thing you can do. It affects everything in sport and health,” she said.

Asked if different sports or differing positions on the field require different meal plans, Mangano explained: “The foundation remains the same—protein and quality carbs. Different individuals’ needs vary by genetics, gender, age, activity level and body size and stature.”

She noted that genetics means that different people respond to food differently. “For some athletes, they require so many calories that eating becomes a job.” In addition, “Every sport has different needs.”

Mangano works with individual athletes on a daily nutrition plan, including pre- and post-workout fueling and food for competition day.

Virginia Beach native Angela Hucles, who is president of the Women’s Sports Foundation and served as a television analyst during the 2015 Women’s World Cup, said, “I was heavily involved with sports and I learned so many life lessons on the playing field.”

But the Olympic gold medalist regrets that she didn’t have Mangano’s nutritional information when she was training.

Hucles’ first sport was swimming. “I was six and my mom wanted me to expend my energy in a positive way. I liked it. Then the next year she put me in soccer, and I instantly loved it.”

While only a seventh grader, Hucles was good enough to make the high school girls soccer team. She was also playing on her middle school’s basketball team.

Maybe it was the age difference or the contrast in maturity levels, but Hucles told her mom she wanted to quit playing soccer.

Her mom said, “You made a commitment to play on both teams and you will finish out the season.”

In eighth grade, Hucles took time off from club soccer. She played basketball in the fall, but by spring was ready to play soccer again. “By playing another sport, I realized how much I missed it.”

Hucles said that her parents (Old Dominion University faculty members Janis Sanchez-Hucles, professor of psychology and department chair, and Michael Hucles, associate professor of history), said “no” to a lot of sports tournaments and competitions, but instead made decisions based on what was best for the family.

During high school at Norfolk Academy, Hucles was a Parade and NSCAA All-American soccer selection in 1995, and when she graduated the following year, she was the school’s all-time leading scorer with 204 goals and 106 assists.

She went on to play soccer at the University of Virginia, where she is still holds the school record in goals, game-winning goals and total points.

Hucles said that when she graduated with a degree in anthropology in 2000, “I didn’t have a dream of professional soccer. It didn’t exist for women.” She worked for three months as a sales/management trainee, before turning semi-pro with the Hampton Roads Piranhas in the newly formed W-League.

The next year, after being drafted by the Boston Breakers for the newly formed Women’s United Soccer Association, Hucles was a starter, but in 2003 the WUSA ceased operation.

Fortunately, her talents had not gone unnoticed, and she played in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup—and then was a member of the gold-medal U.S. team in the 2004 Olympics.

In 2007, Hucles was once again made the World Cup team as a midfielder, but rode the bench. A year later in the Beijing Olympics, when Abby Wambach was injured, Hucles became the starter. She scored four goals—two against Japan in the semi-finals. She was second in scoring only to Brazil’s Cristiane Rozeira.

After the Olympics, Hucles returned to the Women’s Professional League, where she started in 19 games, scored two goals and an assist, but she retired in 2009.

Local soccer fans may recall that Hucles served as an assistant coach to Charlie Naimo for the Pali Blues in 2013.

The two women met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. “We began discussing ways that we could combine our experiences and expertise and bring a unique offering that would add value to an already busy life of an athlete and coach,” Hucles said.

Meg Mangano and Angela Hucles have started a company, Fueling Dynamic Leaders, that emphasizes leadership and nutrition. Photo: Bart Bartholomew
Meg Mangano played for the University of New Hampshire.
Angela Hucles was a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

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