Students come first for mentor & athletics coach Matt Saitz

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For more than a decade, strength and conditioning coach Matt Saitz has been a mentor for student athletes at Webster University.

Matt Saitz talks with the women’s soccer team at the end of a lifting practice. Photo by Vanessa Jones.

His philosophy, “devalue the numbers and value the athlete,” has served him well over the course of his professional career. Saitz has been a strength and conditioning coach since 2007 and a personal trainer since 2005.

Prior to coming to Webster, Saitz served with the Atlanta Braves for four years. He started out as a minor league strength training coach working for one team and eventually became the Braves’ assistant strength training coordinator for all six of its minor league affiliates.

Saitz came to Webster in August 2011.

“It was a family decision, it was about me wanting to start a family and be around,” he said.

Saitz is a graduate of Webster University, completing his master’s in Education and Innovation in 2014. He also holds a degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies with an emphasis in Health and Wellness from Missouri State University.

When Saitz was still with the Atlanta Braves, he and his wife purchased a home in St. Louis, but because of his work with the team, he was either in Florida or Georgia for 11 months out of the year. He says he saw firsthand how people who have been coaching and training at the professional level for decades have had a rough go with their families, and he wanted to avoid that.

Saitz says what he loves most about Webster is the relationships. In addition to his duties as strength and conditioning coach for the Webster Athletics Department, he is an adjunct professor of Exercise Science in the Biological Sciences Department.

“I see people achieve things that they didn’t even know they could achieve,” Saitz said about teaching. “Everyone educates in a different way. I get a lot of joy, and I get a lot of challenges. I like to problem-solve a lot. Every kid that walks through that door, male or female, no matter what sport, it gives me a challenge.”

Graduate student Matt Staker is in his sixth year of playing baseball for Webster.

“[Saitz] has been the biggest influence and just the biggest piece of me being here,” Staker said. “He will do whatever it takes to put everyone else first, put their needs first, and will take time outside of work just to help his players and see them succeed in all parts of life.”

Putting the needs of others first in his professional and personal life is not something new to Saitz. He was a college freshman when his father passed away in 2003. Saitz tells a story of how his younger brother, who was 14 at the time, had a really hard time dealing with it. Saitz came home the summer of his sophomore year to be with his little brother, getting up every day and making sure his brother lifted weights with him. After that, Saitz would take him to the baseball field and hit ground balls, followed by football drills – all to just keep him busy.

“He got stronger. He got a little better, and his mentality changed,” Saitz said. “That was a firsthand experience. I wasn’t a trainer, I wasn’t a coach – I had no aspirations of necessarily coaching at the time – but that experience kickstarted something else in me.”

Freshman pitcher Jak Makert says Saitz always makes sure everyone is doing okay before, after and during each workout session, not to mention his wellness checks with players outside of workouts.

“I think Saitz is tops,” Makert said. “He’s much more hands-on than a lot of the other guys I have worked with.”

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Noah Jensen
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