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Cafeteria food? In Louisville, it’s a hit — and a rare perk among NWSL teams

Photo Racing Louisville/Zac Cahill

Lauren Milliet cannot stop talking about the tomato soup.

“It’s to die for,” the Racing Louisville midfielder (and sometimes fullback) says enthusiastically.

In addition to Milliet’s beloved red pepper and tomato soup, the menu for the day includes vegetable kabobs and slow-braised pork carnitas with plantains and spicy pinto beans with green chili on the side. Earlier in the week, there was mushroom risotto, curry and chickpea soup, and Cajun grilled shrimp. There’s also a salad bar boasting seasonal, locally sourced produce and a to-go fridge with a variety of sandwiches, fruit and veggie cups, and other fresh items.

This isn’t Louisville’s trendy new eatery. This is the cafeteria for Racing Louisville and Louisville City players that is located within the teams’ shared training facilities. Here, players can get two full meals on any day that a practice is taking place. So, even if the women are off and the men are practicing, any Racing player can still stop by the facility and grab breakfast and lunch if they wish and vice versa. In the National Women’s Soccer League, this is rare – unprecedented, really. 

The purpose of providing a cafeteria is to maximize player performance through convenience, said club president James O’Connor. It’s located just down the hall from the teams’ respective locker rooms and treatment rooms. The practice pitches sit just a dozen or so feet outside the cafeteria door. Supplying players with everything they need from food to equipment to recovery in a single location allows the players to focus entirely on their performance. Even the stadium and the teams’ provided housing are only a couple of minutes drive from the training facility to increase practicality. 

“What we want to provide is a training center where you can come in, you can have breakfast as a group, and you can have a wonderful session,” O’Connor told The Equalizer. “If you want to do gym work, the gym is on the site, so you can use the gym. You have lunch and then in less than five minutes, you’re back in your home resting. So I think we wanted to try and deliver a service to the players where they are totally supported in every possible way and that’s something I feel the training ground has allowed us to do.”

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