Utah Tech Athletics adds two new strength and conditioning coaches

The strength and conditioning department has two newest additions. From left, coaches Matt Gabriel and Rachel Saenz are pictured in their element, the weight room. Emily Vanmiddendorp | Sun News Daily

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Rachel Saenz and Matthew Gabriel packed their bags and came to Utah to join the Utah Tech University Athletics program as strength and conditioning coaches.

Joining the team reduced the athlete-to-coach ratio giving more time for coaches to get to know the athletes and allowing them to better tailor their programs for each specific team.

Craig Timmons, the head strength and conditioning coach, said they brought on the new additions because of their experience with not only football but with many other sports as well.

“They’re going to have to work with a wide, very diverse population,” Timmons said. “One main thing that I really look for is somebody that has worked with multiple sports and multiple teams.”

Gabriel worked as an assistant strength coach at Jackson Academy. His desire to continue to grow in the field of strength and conditioning led him to pursue work as an intern at Iowa and Notre Dame. His move to Utah was a step forward in his career goals.

Gabriel credits his love for the weight room to his high school best friend who invited him to train with him at the gym every morning. After seeing progress and development in himself as an athlete, he wanted to have the same impact on other people.

When he started college, he enjoyed learning about the anatomy and physiology part of strength training just as much as the hands-on side of coaching.

“I knew pretty much right then and there that’s what I wanted to do,” Gabriel said.

In high school, Gabriel participated in choir and theater, making music one of his passions. As an outlet, Gabriel said music was a way for him to relax and “shut his mind off.”

As for Saenz, she worked at Texas A&M-Kingsville before coming to Utah Tech. Saenz is from California, so moving to Utah brought her closer to home.

Saenz found her love for strength coaching through her strength coach who coached her through rehabilitation and weight training after she tore her Achilles tendon during her sophomore year of college.

She got her first internship at the University of California in Davis, California. In her time there, she saw an article about Kelsey Martinez, the first female strength coach for the NFL. This article further solidified her desire to pursue a career in strength coaching.

Other than coaching, Saenz is passionate about the beach and the outdoors. Exploring the city is something she wants to do in her free time, but she also describes herself as a homebody and enjoys reading and relaxing.

When talking about their goals for the year, both Gabriel and Saenz said they want to focus on building relationships.

After having several positions before coming to Utah Tech, Saenz said: “I think the life of the strength coach has a very high changeover. It’s from place to place to place, so we’re good at being new.”

Gabriel and Saenz will both work with a variety of teams with the goal of not only preparing them for a good season but also keeping them healthy and strong throughout the season.

“Our job as a strength and conditioning coach is to develop the qualities athletes are required to have— things such as strength, speed, power, things of that nature,” Gabriel said.

Saenz will be working with the women’s basketball, volleyball and tennis teams. Gabriel will be working with the men’s soccer, cross country, track and field and swim teams. Both coaches will be working with football.

“We’re excited to be here, happy, and blessed,” Saenz said.