Webster University’s athletics department has hired Matt Saitz as its first strength and conditioning coordinator.
When the NCAA voted in January 2011 to approve the use of strength and conditioning coaches for Division III schools, Webster acted quickly to fill the position by hiring Saitz, who previously was the assistant strength and conditioning coordinator of the Atlanta Braves’ organization. Never before has the university had a specific person dedicated to training and conditioning.
“The NCAA decision was an important part of us finding ways to address our conditioning needs, prompting us to hire Matt,” said Webster Director of Athletics Tom Hart. “We are very excited to have someone such as him in this newly created position.”
Hart said Webster posted an ad on the NCAA website and hired Saitz from a pool of 50 applicants.
“His experience, passion and desire to be here for a while is what impresses me most about Matt,” Hart said. “He is giving our coaches the help they need because they are stretched so thin. He will relieve pressure on them.”
Saitz will be in the fitness center every day from 7 a.m. until noon, and will be available to all Webster student athletes and coaches.
“My goal is to provide guidance and assistance to each sport-specific discipline to both the coaching staffs and student athletes in order to enhance the potential for success of Webster University’s athletics program,” Saitz said. “Also, to provide sound, effective and injury-preventive physical-preparation training protocols for all student athletes at Webster University.”
Saitz said he will be training in both team and individual settings. Most team training sessions will be set during offseason or preseason training cycles, while individual training may be the result of varying class schedules and in-season availability.
“We can hopefully devote more time to coaching the skills and abilities specific to our own sports,” said head cross-country coach Dusty Lopez. “Strength and conditioning is essential, but it does eat up time and sometimes falls through the cracks. Matt will help us address that. I think his expertise will be a big help in preparing the athletes to be at their peak physical condition.”
Saitz worked for the Braves from 2008 until last week. He assisted in overseeing the strength and conditioning programs and coaches for all six Atlanta Braves’ Minor League Baseball affiliates.
He also coordinated the strength and conditioning protocols for their rehab program at the Braves’ spring training facility at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, while simultaneously serving as the strength and conditioning coach for the Gulf Coast League Braves.
Saitz said teaching professional athletes was not difficult, but he had to earn their respect first.
“Every athlete has different physical dimensions, mentalities, personalities and motivation when it comes to performance and preparation,” Saitz said. “Because of this, each program becomes more individualized to provide a focus for each athlete. Showing the athlete you care about their well-being and career on both a personal and professional level enables a coach to earn the athlete’s trust.”
Saitz said there was satisfaction in watching a player from the lowest level of the minor leagues make their way up to the big leagues through hard work and dedication.
“It’s a great feeling to see them put on that uniform and run out onto the field on television, knowing in the back of your mind that you played a role in their success,” Saitz said.
Saitz wanted to work for a smaller collegiate athletic setting near or in the St. Louis area. He accomplished both when Webster hired him in mid-July.
“I was born and raised right here in St. Louis,” Saitz said. “This position allows for me to be home all year, giving me the opportunity to spend more time with my wife and family.”
It appears to be a good fit for both Saitz and the University.
“Webster has a great reputation for not only its academics, but its athletics program as well,” Saitz said. “Upon meeting several of the coaches during my visit, I noticed the camaraderie among the coaching staff and their sincerity in caring for all Webster University student athletes.”
Saitz officially began working for Webster on Aug. 15. He has a simple and straightforward approach.
Saitz said, “My role as the strength and conditioning coach is to educate, motivate and physically prepare each and every athlete at Webster University to perform at their greatest potential.”