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ISU alumna Amanda Sartoris breaks barriers such as coaching in Major League Baseball
Amanda Sartoris in a baseball dugout

ISU alumna Amanda Sartoris breaks barriers such as coaching in Major League Baseball

While the audience prepares for the first pitch, Amanda Sartoris, MS ’16, has already put down what most would consider a full day’s work. When the stands are empty after the final, an important part of her shift just begins.

Sartoris, who grew up on a farm in Pontiac, did not want it any other way. At a young age, she was hit by the sports error that has never given up. That blue-collar mentality is the reason she got a job in Major League Baseball.

Sartoris was hired by the Miami Marlins as an assistant coach for strength and fitness in mid-May, and became only the second full-time performance coach in the league’s 152 years. She is determined to be more than a footnote in history. She is there to help her team get better every day, something she does with great pride.

While Sartoris appreciates being a role model for young women, what matters most to her is being at the top of her game so that she can keep the players at the top of theirs. “Just showing up, doing your job and being yourself does wonders,” said Sartoris, who trained as an assistant coach for strength and fitness while completing a master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science.

Sartoris implemented training programs for golf for men and women, as well as the tennis program for women. She also worked with basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball and soccer teams for women. Aside from the performance aspect, Sartoris understood the nuances of coaching while working with Redbird Athletics. “I learned everything on the floor in Illinois State, and I’m eternally grateful for that.”

She realized how each athlete treats instructions and information differently. Because she worked with so many campus teams, she saw many perspectives and learned to adapt her answers while training.

“I learned everything on the floor in Illinois State, and I’m eternally grateful for that.”

Amanda Sartoris

“She had an unwaveringly high expectation of the athletes she worked with and created an environment that they wanted to meet and surpass,” said athletic director Ryan Swenson, MS ’15, who worked with Sartoris at the graduate school. “The combination of these qualities mixed with her energy and ability to connect with people allowed her to set the stage for where she has come so far.”

Sartoris quickly climbed the ladder after graduating. A former Division I softball player at Louisiana-Monroe, she was a strength and conditioning coach at the IMG Academy in Florida before taking over as director of strength and conditioning at Salem University in West Virginia for the 2018-2019 school year. From there, she started in Major League Baseball and worked with the Arizona Fall League for two months before joining the Marlins organization in January 2019. She spent time with their smaller league-affiliated companies before the big-league jump.

During the spring training last year, Sartoris was told about a push in the organization to add a full-time strength and conditioning trainer. A mentor encouraged her to go after it. She threw the position up higher, and in May she worked exclusively with the two-time world champions.

Big league life is romanticized with a glamorous appeal. The teams stay in five-star hotels and fly on charter flights. But every day is a gate, as confirmed by Sartoris’ schedule.
Her itinerary for a typical 19.00 match is to arrive at the ballpark in the early afternoon for her own training session before she works individually with pitchers on a bullpen session or her own lift. It is either an activation training for the match that lies ahead or heavier work for a player with a planned day off from the team line-up.

Sartoris then prepares the weight room and makes sure the workouts are on the board with equipment ready. She gets into mobility work with pitchers and position players, leads a stretch and then goes to the field for conditioning.

During the game, Sartoris is in the grave and crunching on data, watching how players move on the field, and working with pitchers who want to get in a lift after an outing. After the match, she works individually with players on recovery or with boys who want to get in a short, explosive lift. Her day ends with a meal and the trip home.

“The biggest thing would be consistency,” Sartoris said. “As long as we can keep the guys in the weight room a few days a week for lifting and then a few days of movement to balance things, it will go a long way for their recovery and performance.”

The Marlins hit .239 while dropping .384 in June, July and August – the months when Sartoris was a full-time coach – compared to .232 and .365 in April and May. Batting average and slugging percentage can both be measurements of how Sartoris’ work shows itself on the field. The same applies to extensions on the mound. The Marlins’ pitchers beat the season’s best 236 hits in June.

Although Sartoris is focused on improving the team’s performance, she can not help but look into the crowd and see parents showing her off to her little daughters.

Self-motivation has brought Sartoris to his enviable position. She has a desire to be great, and she wanted that drive no matter what she chose to pursue. But she also embraces the importance of her presence and what it can mean for future generations.

“I want young girls to see that they do not have to shut out any opportunities,” Sartoris said. While she hopes the news of being one of the first women in a male-dominated sport soon subsides as the doors continue to open, she is humbled to be one who has traveled by turning the lock.

Amanda Sartoris, MS '16
Amanda Sartoris, MS ’16

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