The defining moment — the moment you realize what you are meant to do in this world. It can come at any point in one’s life. Coach Matt Saitz, Webster’s first strength and conditioning coach for the athletic department, discovered what he wanted to do for the rest of his life the summer after his father committed suicide. He was a 20-year-old visiting home from college on summer break to take care of his little brother.
After his father’s death, Saitz wanted to create a routine for his brother to keep him distracted, so he made a workout plan where they did drills and went to the gym every day. When Saitz saw the transformation in his little brother and the strength that he gained, he decided this is what he loved and wanted to pursue.
Returning to Missouri State University in the fall, Saitz learned more about systematic programming. In his internship,he was taught not only the science of it all, but how to be a good applicator when it comes to coaching.
He started his career as an Athletic Enhancement Specialist and eventually accepted a position as a strength and conditioning coach for the Atlanta Braves professional baseball organization. However, the decision to go with the Braves was not an easy one.
“The funny thing is, I was offered a position with the St. Louis Cardinals, but I turned them down and went with the Braves” Saitz says. “I went the opposite route and moved a thousand miles away, which ended up being a great decision because it lead to great friendships. I learned a lot and I was able to advance.”
Throughout Saitz’s career, he has been able to gain valuable insight on working with athletes from all positions. Even though his family still wonders why the St. Louis native who was raised a Cardinal fan took the position with the Braves, he was able to bring skills he learned there and apply them to the program implemented at Webster.
“The main thing I learned in that setting was the relationship between the coach and the athlete is at the utmost importance,” Saitz says. “Understanding the importance of the relationship between the two, that sets the tone for everything to follow.”
While there are many differences when working for a professional baseball organization and a Division III University, the amount of passion between the two levels was also different. Athletes do not receive any scholarship money to play a sport at a Division III University, yet their passion for the sport keeps them going. “The thing I love and value the most about this place is that these kids are willing to come in and train at their sport just because they love it,” Saitz says.
Story by Shelby Culli
Photos by Katie Dineen