Dec. 2, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State softball’s strength and conditioning coach Caitlin Quinn was recently honored by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as its 2014 Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Her work with softball, as well as FSU volleyball, has helped Florida State athletics become one of the top programs in the country. Here is a closer look at the woman who challenges student-athletes to be the best they can be, both on and off the field.
“Coach Quinn has been huge for our program,” said head coach Lonni Alameda. “The mental toughness and strength of endurance that time in the weight room brings our players is a big part of our success on the field. We not only enjoy CQ as a coach in our program but consider her family as she is involved in many aspects from team training to individually helping players with daily routines.
“She is also a part of our adventures with community service events and many other fun activities such as dancing at FSU basketball halftime shows. Caitlin loves her job, she loves helping the student-athletes grow and she is very good at what she does. We are so grateful and fortunate to have her be a part of the program.”
A native of Pittsfield, Mass., Quinn came to Florida State in 2007 after graduating from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Exercise Science. Starting off as an English major at Springfield, Quinn found that wasn’t quite the right fit for her. “I switched because I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Quinn. “But one of my dad’s friends was the strength coach for the Buffalo Bills and I thought that was the coolest job ever. I realized exercise science would be a better route to get to what I want, and it just blossomed from there.”
While strength and conditioning coaches help train student-athletes physically, that isn’t the only part of the job. They are able to engage in almost every part of the athlete’s life, an aspect that Quinn really enjoys.
“You are one of the few people in their lives that never has to tell them they can or can’t play, which the athletic trainers say sometimes or the coaches certainly do,” Quinn mentioned. “We have a relationship with the athletes that is different from a lot of people because we see them so often. So there is some counseling and getting to know them as people involved as well. Truthfully, that’s my favorite part of the job. Watching them become adults and good people as opposed to just good athletes.”
Quinn credits FSU’s strength and conditioning program and its staff, led by Director of Strength and Speed Jon Jost, with helping her become the coach she is today. Jost won the NSCA’s Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year award in 2010 and has built a nationally renowned program.
“Coach Jost is amazing. Everyone he brings in is awesome and brings something different to the table,” Quinn said. “I’ll make a plan and run it by somebody if I have a question, or we’ll just have some `shop talk’ with the way our offices are set up next to each other. We definitely lean on each other for different things.”
“I’m really proud of Caitlin. She has done a fantastic job,” said Jost. “She is someone that is not only very knowledgeable and a very good strength coach, but she is somebody that truly cares about the student-athletes.
“She has their best interest in mind in everything they do, whether it be their work in the weight room and working to improve their physical abilities or to strengthen a weakness to reduce the risk of injuries, or to help them grow as a person and as a young adult. It has been fun to watch her grow and improve and become a really good strength coach. She’s very deserving of this award.”
Carly Wynn, former Florida State softball player and current assistant softball coach for Fresno State, was named an NSCA All-American in 2010 based on her determination and attitude in the weight room. Nominated by Quinn for the award, Wynn was the driving force for the team, both in workouts and on the field. Quinn also awards Florida State softball’s “Seminole Warrior” every year to honor excellence in the weight room.
Major college strength and conditioning has so many facets that the job can differ based on sport, coaching staff, time of year or any number of other variables. This causes the daily or weekly work schedule to be anything but regular.
Quinn mentioned that workouts may begin as early as 6:00 a.m. several times a week, in addition to meetings with her sport’s coaching and support staffs, Olympic strength staff meetings with the other S&C coaches, afternoon practices for one sport, an evening competition for another, etc. “There is no normal,” Quinn said, laughing.
Moving forward, Quinn wants to continue to work within strength and conditioning, but that might not always be at a big college program. “The next logical step would be to become a head strength coach, but I don’t want to ever have less contact time with the athletes,” added Quinn. “I think eventually I would like to run a small program, either at a prep school or at a small Division III school, where I would have a lot of autonomy over the whole program, but still be very involved with working with the athletes. I like the idea of the prep school because their dreams are so genuine.”
Most college students are looking forward to the end of finals week so that they can have some time off to relax, but with Opening Day just over two months away, Quinn and the rest of the softball staff have done a great job of setting the tone that success requires consistent discipline.
They have created a motto that has permeated throughout the program called, “Today for June”, or simply, “2D4J”. The Women’s College World Series is held every year during the first week of June in Oklahoma City, Okla., and it helps the student-athletes push through the early morning workouts, challenging classes and difficult situations knowing that what they do today will impact where and if play in June.
Quinn might not get the headlines or coverage that the other coaches and players do, but she is definitely an integral part of the success to the Florida State softball program and will play a key role in the Seminoles’ pursuit of an eighth WCWS appearance in 2014.