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Coach Cates wins NHSSCA Coach of the Year

Matt Cates, the strength and conditioning coach at Penn, was just named National High School Strength Coaches Association (NHSSCA) National Coach of the Year, another award he can add to the long list.

Cates said that the honor of the award should go to the administration, the coaches, the athletic department, and most importantly, the student-athletes.

Cates believes even though his name is on the award, it isn’t his, and his role in winning the award is very small.

“It takes a team and the team accomplished this honor,” said Cates. “The whole high school accomplished this.”

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Cates continued. “It means the world to have our athletic department, coaches, and student-athletes recognized for this and just validates the approach of stacking days and being consistent with our daily search of improving.”

The motto “Do Your Job” explains the mindset that led Cates and Penn to win this award. Cates said that they strive for this every day in the weight room and will continue to do so.

Cates said it took him a few days to understand the scale of this award, and it even made him a little emotional because of how hard the student-athletes work and how proud he is of them. Cates is very thankful for everyone around him and how much they helped him achieve this feat, expressing many times that he was just a small part of this achievement.

It’s not because I did anything; it’s because of how hard our student-athletes work and I’m so proud of them,” Cates said. “It was also emotional because of my personal family. I spend a lot of time at the school and if it wasn’t for my supportive wife, Stephanie, that time wouldn’t be as easy away.”

Coach Cates said this award won’t change anything, he said everyone involved will continue to try their best, stack days, be consistent, paying attention to detail, and “Do Their Jobs.”

“Coach Cates has always been a great coach and he motivates us to go farther every day,” Penn three-sport athlete Kavon Fairbotham said. “Cates is an excellent strength coach. He inspires athletes to want to do workouts. His workouts make Penn athletes perform at a better level.”

Cates graduated from Portage High School and went on to play football for Manchester University. Since, he has coached at Portage, Michigan City, Martinsville, and Penn High School.

Cates graduated from Manchester with a degree in Physical Education and Health Teaching K-12. He has three other strength and conditioning certificates through USAW, HSSCS, and SSC. He has been the Strength and Conditioning coach at Penn for almost 9 years. In 2022, he led Penn to win the Program of Excellence award for Strength and Conditioning programs by the NHSSCA. Penn was the first of few to win the award.


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