The Replicas Music Interview

Recently Urban Toot was at the Dads’ Club here in Glendale, California and we saw The Replicas Music, Variety band perform at a very private and very VIP birthday party. The band was just crazy good and we got to know them a little and thought that it would be a hoot to interview them here on Urban Toot. 

I sat down with Veronica Puleo, the Executive Director for The Replicas Music so I could get to know her a little bit better. Veronica’s a lot of fun and her passion for music and performing comes out in spades. She’s one of those people who are sorta like Dwayne Johnson who makes you feel like you have been best friends since kindergarten. She’s pretty kick ass!

Here’s how the interview with The Replicas Music got started.

So tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what it is that you do for The Replicas Music.

Veronica: I’m an artist. I started dancing at the age two, began singing at age 7, picked up the guitar at 19, moved to LA to act, be a photographer, and singer songwriter.  Is your head spinning yet?  I love art and working with artists.  What I do for TRM is provide the very best live music entertainment for special events such as weddings, corporate parties, and  private soirees.  I find incredible musicians to play classical, jazz, and all genres of music. My partner I customize and design specific soundtracks for each client to fit the scene of their event.

So you Perform and you are the Artistic Director. What’s that like? It’s gotta be crazy!

Veronica: Crazy is an understatement, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wear so many hats and get to be a chameleon. That is my wheelhouse and my comfort zone.  I can sell to my clients, get the contract signed, book musicians and fill the calendar, and learn a bunch of music for the next gig.  I won’t lie, it can get challenging at times, but I always welcome it.

I understand that you perform with one of the variety bands. Tell us about that variety band, the people in it and how are they different than your two other variety bands? 

Veronica: I feel like one of the luckiest singers in the world. The musicians that grace our stage are some of the most disciplined, professional, super talented individuals … and they happen to have the best sense of humor and they are like family. That is the variety band I get to sing with.  Matt Hornbeck, one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet and his guitar chops are insane.  Hire him to be your session cat!  Speaking of session players, our Music Director, Michael Holowatch is not only a sick drummer, but he also owns Mud Dog Drum Studio (sessions, lessons, and production). Todd Honeycutt, our lead male vocalist toured with Sir Elton John and sings on so many movie soundtracks such as Planet of the Apes!  

I can go on and on about TRM Variety Band.  This is the band that started our agency in 2011.  We literally cover everything but death metal!

We have so many more talented folks in our arsenal that make up our other big ensembles:  

Uptown Social Club – Pop / Top 40 / Motown / 80s – Malynda Hale, Cheyenne Jolene, Aaron Schumacher … these vocalists will knock your socks off. Google them!  Seriously they are so accomplished it blows my mind.


Boulevard West –  Funk / Soul / RnB – T.j. Wilkins was on The Voice, The horn section in that band:  JP Floyd on Trombone tours with Chance the Rapper, Cameron Johnson on Trumpet tours with Robin Thicke

Boulevard West –  Funk / Soul / RnB – T.j. Wilkins was on The Voice, Jamila Ford backing vocalist for Seal, Christopher Johnson – a gifted trombonist, has performed with musicians such as Clark Terry, Wycliffe Gordon, Aloe Blacc, Jasmine Sullivan, Jamie Foxx, Mary Mary, Ledisi, Tevin Cambell, Yolonda Adams, Rachelle Ferrell, Jennifer Holiday, Monica, Tamia, Stephanie Mills and Stevie Wonder to name a few.

From looking at your website, The Replicas Music I see that you represent a lot of other musical acts/groups. Tell us about them.

Veronica: We’ve got it all from solo artists, duos, trios … all the way up to 13+ pc bands.  They can handle all styles of music.  Even our background ensembles can take classic rock hits like “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC and turn it into a Bossa Nova.  So fun!  We also represent the very best in Mariachi, Jazz, Classical, Latin Jazz, Bluegrass, New Orleans Brass Band.  

We saw you play at the VW Dads’ Club. Is that a normal type of venue that The Replicas Music plays? 

Veronica: All venues and events are game!  We love down home backyard parties … and in this same breath I can say that my musicians love to get dolled up and play the most posh venues in SoCal.  Our usual spots are private estates, Malibu Rocky Oaks, The Beverly Wilshire, The Montage Beverly Hills, The Ebell of LA, Sunstone Villa in Santa Ynez, Hummingbird Ranch, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Santa Monica Beach Club, Jonathan Beach Club, Jonathan Club DTLA, The Millennium Biltmore, The Four Seasons Biltmore, The Four Seasons Westlake Village, The Four Seasons Beverly Hills, City Club DTLA, Los Angeles Athletic Club … and for good measure, you can catch the TRM Variety Band monthly at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas.

Okay I get it, the VW Dads Club is not your normal type of venue, but how was it to perform there? 

The Replicas Music performing at The VW Dads' Club

Veronica: We loved performing at VW Dads Club and would love to be there more!  We met so many awesome people.  There is a true sense of community and genuine good vibes all around in Glendale.  Steve and Patti from Smack Smog made our killer website, rebranded us completely, designed the perfect logo and help us with marketing. We recently bought a house with the help of our most awesome Glendale Real Estate Agent, Jake at Diggs.  Skyline Home Loans hooked us up with our loan.  

So what is a normal gig for The Replicas Music and all its acts? (In town, out of town, wedding, corporate etc)

Veronica: All kinds of events, but mainly Corporate, Weddings, and Fundraisers.  We will travel anywhere.  We recently did a gig at The Phoenician in Scottsdale AZ for AT Kearney. But for the most part we stick around SoCal from Santa Ynez down to San Diego.

Do you have any tips for someone wanting to hire some live entertainment? 

Veronica: Hire real musicians!  Hire musicians who live, eat, breath, and sleep music. Stay away from track bands if music really does matter to you.  What is a ‘track band’?  Well, that’s a band that uses pre recorded tracks to thicken up their sound. Sometimes you’ll see a band and hear horns and backing vocals, but there are no horns on stage and no backing vocals.  Sometime you will see a 4 piece band and they will sound like a 15pc.  They may even be ‘miming’ and not even playing their instruments.  We simply don’t believe in that. #NoTracks … Real musicians don’t need tracks.  

It sounds like you’re crazy busy! What do you do to keep sane?

Veronica: Yoga, play with my dogs, go salsa dancing

It sounds like you have your hands full! If our readers wanted to hear you live when is your next public gig?

Veronica: October 20th at Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas.

Authors Note:
For the sake of full transparency I should mention that The Replicas Music is a client of Smack Smog here in Glendale, California, which is the internet marketing & branding team that takes care of the technical things on Urban Toot. If that bothers you for some reason you should feel free to leave this website right now and never come back. Our feelings won’t be hurt because we aren’t here to trick you or exploit you in any way. With that said, The Replicas Music Agency is a pretty kick ass group of rogue musicians who play weddings, corporate events and VIP birthday parties. You should contact them and book one of their ensembles for your next event!



gusd app graphic

The GUSD App serves you Top Stories about what’s happening at all the schools in the Activity Stream, you can receive notifications (although at this point the notifications are almost nonexistent for most people. I’m sure that this will pick up over time as the App gains more ground.  You can see other items on the second page such as:
  • Calendar
  • News
  • Tip Line – Kinda cool. It’s a small form that the user can fill out and enter tips. I think it would be good to have some sort of explanation of what tips they hope to receive but it is a form of communication with the district so it’s a good thing. The  Tip Line has Categories that if you take the time to explore will help you to send out information about
    • Bullying
    • Drugs
    • Feedback (whatever that means)
    • Fighting
    • Kudos
    • Maintenance
    • Medical
    • Personal Crisis
    • Safety Risk
    • Suggestions
    • Technology
    • Threat
    • Vandalism
    • Weapons

I think it’s pretty cool that you can either provide your name and contact information or remain anonymous as well as provide the location.

Other Cool Things

Other cool things is the Parent Connect where you can see attendance and assignments. I just wish all the teachers would use the Parent Connect and not just a couple.


Another good feature is the directory for each school. That’s pretty obvious so I won’t go into detail.

The other features you’ll have to check out for yourself. There is the Center Track pay for EELP which looks like it just takes your to a regular webpage inside the app. The writing is tiny on a phone and so I think I would personally hate using it it but that’s just my opinion but check it out for yourself and try it out.

The Construction Update didn’t load so i don’t know what’s going on there and the Elementary Lunch Menu began another download of a PDF which I don’t think is a good idea. It’s going to need to download often, it’s going to be a resource memory hog that will use up your phone storage. I’m not sure why they don’t just port it into HTML 5 and be done with it. Oh and as much as I like the School Superintendent (I really do, he seems like a good guy) I don’t understand why he has is own section in the App. If it’s going to have some important information then at least tell us what sort of information it will have.

Anyway, decide for yourself if you think it’s a useful app. I think it is. I’m grateful that we have it.

Here are the directions from the GUSD website about how to get the Glendale Unified School District App on your phone.

Instructions on how to get the App on your phone!

  • Download the New GUSD App!

    • Stream school and district news
    • Receive instant notifications
    • Check student information
    • Submit online tips

    Downloading the app is easy!

    1. Visit the App Store or Google Play
    2. Search for “Glendale USD”
    3. Download the app
    4. Select the schools you want to follow

Just another traffic fatality? No more!

It’s Sunday night and I’m hanging out on Twitter. Checking my feeds and wondering what’s going on in the world. Then suddenly a small flurry of local tweets start flowing in about an accident:

I’m not putting making the names public but because I want to get this out right away. They are on Twitter, you can look them up. Here is a bit of the conversation.

(note: stock photo of Glendale Police Department, not from the scene of the fatality)

Right near the corner of Glendale Blvd and Broadway I think. Cops weren’t even trying to help her cause she was just gone. Bloody.

I saw an old woman lying dead in the street after being hit by a car today. Nice way to end the weekend. 🙁

Pedestrian struck at Glendale ave and California ave in Glendale PD says it could be bad.

Pedestrian struck on intersection of Glendale & California. Victim not to be looking good. Streets closed w/detours

Whats wrong with us Glendale? What’s wrong when an old lady lays dead on the road and it’s busisness as usual. The good people who wrote the tweets above sounded genuinely concerned about this victim of what we are assuming was another traffic fatality. Now we don’t know the facts yet. It sounds like it just happened a few minutes ago but will the good people of Glendale be outraged or will we just accept this as another part of living in Glendale?

I feel outrage. I feel contempt with my own community because we view this tragedy as another day. We have become to complaincent in accepting traffic fatalities in our community when other communities don’t have any. Glendale we must change.

Glendale must find a way to change. We can no longer accept that traffic fatalities are a way of life and that as long as it’s no one that I know, or that it’s no one that I love then it’s okay. No more.

We must become radical in our thinking and be willing to be willing to be radical in our actions. There is still plenty of options that are within our legal rights and I believe that we need to start to explore them. If we don’t start having these conversations and those conversations lead to action then  we shouldn’t be outraged when someone we love gets injured or worse by a driver. Let’s get active before we are forced to experience loss.

What are your thoughts?


The Tongva People


Urban Toot is about Glendale, the lives, thoughts and perspectives of the people who live here. We thought it would be interesting to look as far back as possible to see who were the first people who lived in Glendale. These people were called the Tongva, they spoke that was part of a larger group called the Uto-Aztecan language of families and unfortunately the language has gone extinct.
The Tongva lived in what we now would refer to as Los Angeles but it appears that they made the San Gabriel Mountains their central point.  The name of the people has changed over history being called the Gabrielino or San Gabriel Band. The new name came because of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel  which was established in 1771. This was not exactly a happy time in the history of the Tongva as that they were severely mistreated. The Spanish also confused the Tongva with another nearby group called the Tataviam and just started calling all the Indesious people Gabrieleño.
When the Mission of San Gabriel Arcangel was firmly created in 1771 The Tongva had a population of about 5,000, by the early 1900’s the Tongva culture was almost completely gone. While there are some records and historical artifacts, most of the Tongva language and culture had disappeared. However I do think it’s important to note that Loyloa Marymount University has archives of Tongva culture. It’s also of note that at this time there are about 1500 people who claim Tongva  or Gabreilino
as their tribe.
From what I read online that there is no one group that is recognized as the Tongva  (or Gabreilino) Nation. While the state of California does recognize the Tongva as a legitimate First Nation the Federal Government does not.
A few other random tidbits that I picked up:
  • The Tongva believed in a supreme being that brought order to the chaotic world by setting it upon the shoulders of seven giants made for that purpose.
  • To fail to show courage was the height of disgrace among the Tongva. Men would deliberately lie on top of red anthills and have handfuls of ants placed in their face as a demonstration of courage.
  • boys sought visions of their own special animal protector.
  • By the time the first American settlers arrival in the Los Angeles area in 1841, Tongva survivors were scattered and working at subsistence level on Mexican land grants. Disease further decimated the Tongva population.
You can read more about these very early first  people of Glendale at these Web Sites:
Steve O’Bryan is a resident of Glendale who loves where he lives. He runs Smack Smog Inc a Strategic Content company that helps Organizations reach their goals via the Internet and Social Media. He minored in History and likes to share what he’s learned. 

Dog Behavior Lecture: Mischief, Mayhem, and Manners

Did you know that the Glendale Humane Society offers Lectures? Neither did we! However we recently discovered that Janine Pierce is offering a lecture entitled “Mischief, Mayhem, and Manners.” Ms Pierce is a dog behavior expert    (Certified from the Council for Professional Dog Trainers) and she will be shedding light on some interesting information about dogs.

Topics Include:

  • What is normal doggie behavior? Do we have realistic expectations?
  • How do consequences and environment affect a dog’s behavior?
  • How can we survive puppyhood?
  • What do we do with our canine teenagers (adolescence!)?
  • We will also cover specific problem solving like jumping, mouthing, greeting behaviors, coprophagia (gasp!) and more!

Pre-registration is required: Early bird $25 before May 7; regular $30

All proceeds benefit the animals in the shelter. Thank you for your support!

Event Properties

Event date: 05-20-2012 02:00 PM
Event End Date: 05-20-2012 03:30 PM
Cut off date 05-19-2012
Individual Price $30.00
Location Glendale Humane Society
 Information courtesy of the Glendale Humane Society Website. We encourage you to visit the site, visit the Humane Society and then responsibly adopt a cat or a dog.

Good Intentions

When we start something new or make a promise to ourselves it is usually with good intentions in mind.  We start with a positive can do attitude and are not planning on taking a detour or hitting a roadblock along the way.  However life happens and maybe your plan that you thought was such a great idea was not such a doable one after all.  Maybe giving up all sugar for example was a little extreme.

This past summer I started training for a 25k (15.7 miles) Trail Race with good intentions in mind of course.   This wasn’t just any trail race however.  This was the Bulldog named after its long 4.3 mile long hill that climbs up to 2500 hundred feet.  This was a brutal trail race and it was supposed to be my  “first” big comeback race since the birth of my youngest son.  Sure I had run the local races around town but this was going to be my first big test.  For those of you that don’t know, my third pregnancy really threw me for a loop both mentally and physically and finally two years later I felt ready to go at it again.

Well the big day arrived and my body was ready, but mentally I was not.  It was literally the HOTTEST day of the summer and I began to have my doubts.  I had been envisioning a top three finish but that soon clearly became not the case.  In the middle of the wretched Bulldog hill all I wanted to do was turn around.  It was hot, I had fallen off the pace and there was an “old “ lady that just passed me up the hill.  My good intentions started to turn into no intentions.  My friend’s husband caught up with me and we started talking.  Clearly if I was able to hold a conversation up the Bulldog with him I was not pushing myself.  We arrived at the aid station at mile 7 and after the volunteer doused me with fabulously cold water something clicked in me.  My race was not going how I had envisioned it to but I was not a quitter.  I said so long to my friend’s husband and was off.  My body was flying up and down the trail and I was passing runner after runner.   I came through the finish line feeling depleted.  I made up so much time I ended up beating my friend’s husband by eleven minutes.  I did not finish in the top three as I hoped but I felt good that I did not let my whole entire race fall apart.  My intentions were to run hard and finish at least third woman.  My reality:  I ran hard the second half of the race and had to settle for sixth woman.  As I drove home from the race that day I felt disappointed and sad that I did not accomplish what I had set out to do. (I was also wising that I was not such a competitive person!)  However I did not let myself completely fall apart which is something I should be proud of.  My goal that I had set for myself with good intentions in mind was not completely fulfilled but I did not abandon it because I hit a roadblock.

When you set a goal for yourself whether it is to include more fruits and veggies in your diet or to workout more often and you hit a roadblock don’t jump ship.  Get over the obstacle and continue where you left off.    It is often thought that if a person eats one so called bad food during the day that their diet is ruined and they may as well continue to eat poorly the rest of the day.  This is not the case.  Get over the “bad food” and jump back to your plan.  The same goes for exercise.  If you can’t get your full one-hour workout in and can only fit in 30 minutes, do it!  Something is better that nothing.

So next time your healthy living plan that was made with good intentions of course does not go as planned don’t jump ship.  Make adjustments and continue on.


Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.


Image from Flickr Creative Commons lululemonathletica

Baby it’s hot outside

Summer is fast approaching and warm weather is just around the corner.  In fact we experienced some spring heat this past weekend.  As the weather gets hotter keeping our kids hydrated becomes a top priority.  When playing outside or in sporting events children acclimate to the heat but not as quickly as adults do.  Children also have a greater ratio of body surface area to mass, meaning that they have more skin surface area from which to gain or lose heat for each pound of body weight.  This is good except when it is hot and the outside temperature exceeds the skins temperature.   So in turn kids gain more heat from the outside temperature and are unable to get rid of it as quickly.  This is due to the fact that children have a lower rate of sweat loss than adults.   So what can you do as a parent to keep your kids safe this summer in heat?

  1. Expose your kids to the heat slowly.  The more days they spend outside playing in the heat the more their body will acclimate to it.  Increase the amount of time they spend playing in the heat each day and they will soon adjust.
  2. Make sure to keep your kids properly hydrated.  Water is always best.  Excessive amounts of juice and sports drinks only add unwanted calories and sugar.  Sports drinks however are very useful if your child is playing in a sporting event in a hot environment and a lot of running is involved.  If your child does like plain water, flavor with fresh fruit slices or make fruit ice cubes to place in the water.
  3. Proper hydration can be met in a variety of ways.  Think beyond water.  Below is a list of foods that you can include in your child’s diet throughout the day to make sure he/she is staying properly hydrated.

           20 Top Foods to keep you hydrated (greatest to least hydrating)


2.Iceberg Lettuce
3.Sweet Peppers
6.Canned mushrooms
8.Honeydew melon
15.Pasta Sauce
17.Cooked Cream of wheat
18.Canned plums
19.Mandarin oranges
20.Cottage Cheese

  1. Studies show that kids will drink more when the beverage is cold.  So be prepared and have ready to drink sippy cupsor bottles filled with water that are easily accessible to your child. Put them in an easy to reach place in the refrigerator or carry a small cooler in your car during the summer months.

Play it safe this summer and keeps your kids cool and hydrated.

Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Images from Flickr Creative Commons: Water Fountain Drink, Hot Summer,  Kids Playing, Drink of Water

Gardening With Your Little Ones

Spring is right around the corner believe it or not and that means that it is time to start planning your vegetable garden.  Growing a vegetable garden is a great family activity.  Not only does it allow for some family bonding time, it teaches your child about where food comes from.  And if your child has been involved in the gardening process they are more likely to eat the vegetables they have grown themselves.

Peak your child’s interest by reading books on gardening together.  Some great fun reads are: How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry and Muncha, Muncha, Muncha  by Candace Fleming.  You can also visit local farmer’s markets, pick-your own vegetable farms and community gardens.  This will allow your child to talk with the growers themselves.  Now let’s get started!

  1. Vegetables love the sun so pick a nice sunny location in your yard.  If you don’t have a yard, don’t despair, a couple of large containers will work just as well.
  2. Prepare your dirt with some good soil amendments/fertilizer that can be found at local nursery or hardware stores.
  3. Pick your veggies.  Depending on where you live you will either want to start your vegetables from seed or plants.  Some good, easy-to-grow, and nutritious choices are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, beans, and if space allows, pumpkins.
  4. If you are feeling adventurous, add some herbs to your garden as well.  Some great summer choices are basil, chives, oregano, thyme and cilantro.
  5. To keep your plants healthy make sure to water regularly and watch out for pesky bugs.  You can purchase organic pest sprays, ladybugs and/or praying mantis to help keep pests at bay.

Since growing vegetables can take some time, have your child keep a journal of the plants growth, either through words or pictures.  This will not only keep your child interested but it will also help you keep track of when your plants should be harvested.  All that is left to do now is to sit back and eat your veggies.  If your child was not eating vegetables before, I guarantee you they will be eating their vegetables now.

Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.



Images sources from flickr Creative Commons: Seeds, Enormous Cucumber, Planting



Eating to Fuel Performance in Softball Players

Eating to Fuel Performance in Softball Players

To achieve success in sports one must practice hard and fuel their body properly.  Softball is a game of skill that requires short bursts of energy for running, fielding, throwing and batting.  Besides becoming skilled in a particular position and developing speed, strength, power and agility an athlete must also focus on their sleeping habits, their stress level and their nutrition.  Making sure that you are properly fueled to last an entire game or practice takes some planning.  Without proper planning, performance can definitely suffer.

What should a softball players diet look like?


Depleted energy stores during games and practices are a big problem for many athletes.  To stop this from occurring the proper amount of carbohydrates must be eaten before, during and after games and practices.  Not only are carbohydrates imperative for a good physical performance they are also important for a good mental performance since they are the brains main energy source.  Keeping energy stores at proper levels will aid in good decisions on and off the field.  Since softball is mostly anaerobic, the amount of carbohydrates consumed will be less than other athletes that are engaged in more aerobic types of sports.  Note:  During preseason conditioning larger amounts of carbohydrates will be needed.

When to eat

A meal rich in carbohydrates should be eaten 3-4 hours before games and practices and if needed a small snack 1-2 hours before.

Meal Ideas:

  • Grilled chicken sandwich, side salad, pretzels, water
  • Sandwich with deli meat, baked chips and lemonade
  • Oatmeal, toast with peanut butter and orange juice
  • Pasta w/ marinara sauce and sliced grilled chicken, steamed veggies, water

Snack Ideas (if necessary): bagels, animal crackers, trail mix, granola/energy bars, fruit, sports drink or crackers

Avoid: high fiber foods, spicy and fried foods and milk based foods, which can cause stomach distress.


Protein is essential for the building and repairing of muscles as well as providing a small amount of energy during prolonged exercise, such as during practice or a game.  Since softball relies more on the anaerobic system, protein needs are a bit higher than other athletes.  Protein intake does not need to be monitored however because a typical diet usually provides enough protein.  If an athlete is restricting certain foods from their diet, protein intake should be monitored then.  Good protein sources include:  fish, chicken, lean meats, low-fat milk, eggs, nuts and soy.


Most people think of fat as the enemy but it plays an important role in the body.  Restricting fat excessively can lead to nutritional deficiencies.  When adding fat to your diet, choose wisely.  Choose heart-healthy fats like vegetable oils (olive and canola), nuts, seeds, avocado and fatty fish.


It is very important to stay hydrated.  Being dehydrated can lead to early fatigue.  To make sure you stay hydrated, drink fluids throughout the day by consuming a combination of water and sports drinks.  As a rule of thumb, always practice your fluid intake on non-game days so you know what works and what doesn’t.

Ways to stay hydrated

  • Stop at the water fountain between classes
  • Pack a water bottle or sport drink in your backpack
  • Drink as soon as you get up in the morning
  • Drink extra fluids at lunch to prepare for afternoon practice
  • Drink during games and practices

Post game Recovery

Following games or practice it is important to eat within 1 hour.  This allows the body to recover properly and to replenish diminished energy stores.  When a meal is eaten immediately after exercise the rate of recovery and replenishment is much higher than if a meal is consumed at a later time (>1 hr).

Snack ideas: Any of the pregame snack ideas will work as well as string cheese, milk, deli turkey, or peanut butter.  A sports drink and bar could be consumed as well.

Meal ideas

  • Pasta with tuna, olive oil, garlic bread, salad and brownies and milk
  • Grilled chicken with rice, beans, vegetable
  • Lean meat, with potatoes, broccoli and small dessert


Top 3 Take-away nutrition tips

  • Adopt a training diet that will fuel your workouts
  • Eat carbohydrate-rich foods or fluids right after games or practices
  • Eat before you train

Katie Valdes MS, RD.  For questions e-mail me at

Sources: Sports Nutrition for Softball Players, Thomas 2006

How many calories do you need:

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.


Softball image by Ron Cogswell on Flickr Creative Commons 



A Handler and Her Puli’s

I recently interviewed Tippy Sheppard, who is the handler of Buvi, a Hungarian Sheep Dog.  Buvi is currently in the top 5 agility dogs of his breed in the country.  Tippy lives in Tustin, CA and travels all over Southern California for dog agility and obedience competitions.  You may have seen dog agility competitions on T.V.  The Wikipedia definition is: “Dog agility is a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash with no food or toys as incentives, and the handler can touch neither dog nor obstacles. Consequently, the handler’s controls are limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring exceptional training of the animal and coordination of the handler.”


When did you begin doing dog agility?

We probably started taking agility classes for fun in 2005 and competed for the first time in 2006.


How did you get interested in and doing dog agility?

I signed up to take a “Sampler Class” to sample all the different classes being offered at Jump Start Dog Sports in Yorba Linda, CA. The Agility was so much fun and such a challenge that we just continued on with it. We began just for fun but soon it became apparent that “we were hooked”.

What type of dogs do you have that do agility?

I have Puli’s (Hungarian Sheep Dogs). The actual plural of Puli is Pulik. I have a boy named Buvi who is 10 years old and still running very competitively in his 16″ category. The dogs are divided up by their height at the shoulders and that determines what jump height they compete in. I also have a young 3-year-old girl (Dixie) who is just beginning her career in agility.

What kind of training is required and how often? Where do you train?

If you ask 10 different people, you will likely get 10 different answers. I also train and compete with my dogs in obedience; this is very helpful because if your dog is not reasonably obedient, it will be difficult to work with them on an agility course. I began this sport at retirement age and need as much help as I can get so we train a lot. Here is our schedule right now: 1-hour Agility Class on Monday with Dixie in Chino, CA (Peak Performance Dog Sports); 1-hour Obedience Class on Monday evening. with Dixie at Jump Start Dog Sports; 1-hour Agility Class on Tuesday morning with Buvi, followed by half-hour private agility lesson with Dixie in Chino; 1-hour private obedience lesson with Dixie followed by a 1-hour agility class with Dixie in Yorba Linda. Most Fridays have a 1-hour “Jumping Grid Class” with Dixie at Wags & Wiggles in Tustin. We try to practice in between times and are trailing most weekends. Whew! Most of the handlers I know do not have the space or the money to set up agility equipment in their yards.

What type of positive reinforcements do you use with your dogs (treats)?

I use, primarily, small pieces of hot dogs usually kept in my mouth and distributed from there……….I want my dogs to be looking up at me as much as possible. Toys are also used a lot; you will see a lot of agility dogs that place a very high value on tugging with a toy. I also use Turkey Meat Balls (from Trader Joe’s) as a “Jackpot” (reward) treat after running an agility course at a trial. String cheese is another favorite treat.


How much time do you spend training and at events each week?

I spend a lot of time training and competing…………7 class events each week and competing almost every weekend. Now that my young dog is competing it doubles everything! Last weekend we drove 85 miles in the pouring down rain to compete in Obedience……yes, we are pretty passionate about our dog sports.


Do you have to travel a lot? Where are most of the events?

We are very fortunate here in Southern California that we have Agility Trials almost every weekend without traveling too far. Some of the popular venues are: Brookside Equestrian Center in Walnut, Industry Hills Expo Center in Industry Hills, Woodley Park in Van Nuys, Navel Training Center in Point Loma, Brookside Park in Pasadena, Fair Grounds in Del Mar, L.A. Fair Grounds in Pomona, and various parks in Ventura and Camarillo, to name a few.


How do you mentally and physically train for events?

We have people with a wide array of physical abilities in Agility and that is what makes it so interesting. The dogs themselves have a wide variety of abilities. If you have a fast dog (I do), it is important that you keep up with him and actually be ahead of him in order to guide him thru the course. Memorizing the course can be challenging when you are trying to think about all your handling maneuvers and running…….it is very easy to forget the course in a split second “brain fade”. The courses for Excellent Dogs (the experienced dogs) will have about 20 obstacles and will generally be run in under a minute (30-60 seconds). The judges will establish a “Course Time” for each jump height and the team must run the course (without any errors) under that time in order to qualify. In AKC Agility, most of the dogs will compete in 2 different courses: Jumpers with Weaves and the Standard Course. Standard has all the obstacles: teeter, a-frame, dog walk, table, weave poles, tunnels, broad jump, triple jump, double jump and regular jumps. The JWW is usually faster and has only jumps, tunnels and weave poles. The courses are designed by the judges and are different every time. We must be allowed a minimum of 8 minutes to walk the course and memorize it………..usually we get more time than that.

Can you speak about treatments that you or your dog receives to be in top physical condition, i.e. massage, acupuncture, etc.? Are there other treatments that are interesting to you but have not tried?

My 10-year-old boy is in amazing condition and I do everything I can to keep him that way. Perhaps the most important thing I do for him is keep him lean. I also give him human joint supplements (glucosamine & chondroitin). He does get special massages from a Veterinarian-turned-massage therapist specifically for performance dogs……every six weeks or so. I have also used canine chiropractic and acupuncture for him. I would return to acupuncture if he begins to show any signs of pain. I also watch him like a hawk to look for any signs that he may have injured himself or pulled anything. As for me, I just try to stay upright and keep moving!


Do you meet a lot of other people that also do agility? (What is the typical profile of a dog agility person or are they all different?)

We all love our dogs no matter how they perform! It is pretty important to enjoy being outdoors, regardless of the weather! I have found “Agility People” to be an exceptionally nice group of people who sincerely want to see everyone do well. We pretty much have it all: young and old, physically fit and physically challenged. For many competitors, their dogs are their families.


Do you use social media related to agility? (Are there books, magazines, etc. for agility?)

Many of my agility friends are on Facebook and often post updates on their activities and videos of their runs. We also keep up on friends who may have lost a dog to the Rainbow Bridge. There is a Magazine called “Clean Run” that is the most important resource for us. It has articles but also sells training equipment and aids as well as offering Training DVDs from some of the country’s top handlers. They have a great website:


What is the most rewarding part of doing agility with your dog?

First is probably having this amazing relationship with your dog……a partnership like no other! I just read that you can have a world class handler and a world class dog but they may not do well together……….the key is knowing each other’s weaknesses and working together to do the best you can. I also love to watch all the other competitors and delight in their successes and console when needed. It is great to see how well some of the older dogs and older people can do and also to see all the young puppies coming along. We have some fantastic venues here in Southern California and have lots of fun too!

What is your greatest challenge with agility?

Timing!!!! I don’t have near the experience that most of my friends do………many are working on their 3rd or 4th agility dog and I am on my first. It is my responsibility to show my dog where to go and when to turn ………most of this is done with “body language”. If your dog is fast, you must give the cues in a timely fashion or he will not follow the course correctly. Timing is everything, as it is in many sports! I am much better than I used to be, but remembering the course and my handling maneuvers can often be challenging. When having to turn around 360 degrees or 270 degrees, I often get disoriented and then lost on the course…….not good! I also still struggle a little bit with nerves……….mine and my dog’s.


Do you feel that doing agility affects your relationship with your dog? How so?

It definitely enhances our relationship……….we spend tons of time together training and practicing and then competing and he loves it!!! Now that I have 2 dogs competing, one gets pretty upset when the other gets to go “play”. Plus, I have learned so much valuable information about my dogs on this journey.


How long do you think you will continue to do dog agility?

As long as this body holds up to the task! Recently, there was an article in Clean Run about older handlers and 8 to 10 handlers were interviewed regarding their ages; all were in their 70s or 80s and I know most of them and they are going strong!


If other dog owners are interested in doing dog agility, how would you suggest they get started? What breeds dominate the sport? Best age to start?

I would suggest looking for a location that offers agility classes and then research (if there is more than one option). There are a lot of options here in Southern California depending on where you live. Google it in your area.  Border Collies pretty much dominate the sport but most of us are not out there to become World Team Competitors……..just want to be good for us. The best time to start is as soon as the puppies have all their shots and can be out in the world. There are lots of puppy activities they can do until their little bones have formed enough for actual jumping.

Anything else that you want to add?

My advice is to be careful……….this is a very addictive activity!!!



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