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Why do they call it that? Gatorade's Bay Area research lab | News

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Why do they call it that? Gatorade's Bay Area research lab

Whether you're drinking it or getting it dumped on your head at the end of a game, Gatorade has been a part of sports for more than 40 years. And last year, it became a part of the Bay Area.

Why do they call it the Gatorade Sports Science Institute?

"The best way to supply an athlete with what they need is to really learn what those athletes' needs are," explains JohnEric Smith.

"And the only way to do that is to assess those athletes."

Smith runs the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Bradenton. It's a fusion of exam room and workout room. Here -- jocks... and nerds... team up!

An athlete volunteers for a slew of sweaty exercises. Computers grab every hunk of data you can think of -- from tests you couldn't dream of.

All of it offers insight into how that athlete can improve themselves.

"They then take [that] back to their strength and conditioning staffs, their sports coach, their nutritionist, their athletic training and sports medicine staff," Smith said.

"So this is very important for the individual athlete. At the same time as we're collecting that information, we're also learning -- from our side -- about a large group of athletes."

The athletes get better, and so do Gatorade's products.

Who comes here? NBA champs like Dwayne Wade, gold medalists like Kerri Walsh Jennings, Heisman winners like Robert Griffin III, and... well... we don't know. Most of the rest of the institute's visitors are a secret.

"We have the athletes that you see... the Gatorade athletes that are sponsored by Gatorade... but for the most part, the athletes that come through is a private consultation, basically," Smith said.

Why put it in Bradenton? It's on the campus of IMG Academy, one of the world's premier training centers for athletes.

So Gatorade runs the institute... but how did Gatorade get its name?

A University of Florida doctor started studying something in the 1960's: Why did Gator football players lose so much weight out on the field and run out of gas in the second half?

It turns out -- they were sweating out all their energy.

So Dr. Robert Cade and his team cooked up a drink. It replaced the salts and sugars players sweated away. And it was gross.

Dr. Cade's wife had a suggestion: squeeze in a little lemon juice. The flavoring worked -- and so did the Gators' magic drink. Players gulped it down.

The next season, powered by Dr. Cade's potion, the team lost just two games. In the decades since, the drink has shown up on sports sidelines -- and in the laundry of winning coaches who've been showered in the stuff -- around the world.

That invention launched a entire industry. And, five years ago, it got the inventors a cameo in a commercial for the revolutionary product they created.

"The players weren't adequately hydrated, and their performance suffered," co-inventor and Tampa resident Dr. Dana Shires says in the commercial.

"The answer: a new carbohydrate, electrolyte beverage created by University of Florida doctors," announcer Keith Jackson explains.

Dr. Cade concludes, "Naturally, we called our stuff Gatorade."

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

Over the years, the University of Florida has gotten more than $80 million in royalties from Gatorade. All of that money goes into new research.

Also, the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention has been established in Gainesville, hoping to inspire the next generation of inventors.

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News starting at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.


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