Chase Sanders makes an impact in the weight room

While most people are still sound asleep early in the morning, the Broncos’ head strength and conditioning coach, Chase Sanders, is wide awake and ready to begin his jam-packed day.

“My alarm clock is set for 4:03 a.m. every morning,” Sanders said. “Don’t me ask why it’s 4:03 a.m. because in my head it’s a little bit past 4 a.m. So yes, it’s still bad, but at least it’s not 3:45 a.m. bad.”

Sanders arrives on campus around 4:45 a.m. to get his own workout in before his work day begins. His first team will join him in the weight room at 6:45 a.m.

Chase Sanders assisting one of his athletes during a workout in the Bronco Performance Center.
(Grace Mikuriya | The Poly Post)

While many applaud the success of the student athletes, there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes to make sure the athletes are ready, both physically and mentally, to compete to their best ability every day. Sanders is a huge part of that success at Cal Poly Pomona. “I think the best thing I can say about Chase is that he’s someone who puts the health of his athletes before results,” sophomore baseball player Drew Atherton said. “He preaches proper form and does whatever he can to make sure we lift both heavy and healthy.”

Sanders knew early on that whatever he ended up doing had to make an impact on someone or something.

“Knowing that what we are doing is making somewhat of an impact, that is what I’ve always thought my calling in life was to be,” Sanders said. “I didn’t know what job it was going to be, but I knew whatever job I was going to do, it had to make an impact.”

In his junior and senior years of high school, Sanders was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma and went through chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and radiation. 

He wanted to go on to play football but due to his illness, he decided to focus on school. He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Brigham Young University — Idaho.

With plans of becoming an oncologist accompanied by the stress of signing up for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) just a month away, he stumbled across a YouTube video. The video was a day-in-the-life of the former football strength coach at the University of Maryland, Drew Wilson. 

“It was in 2011. I watched the video and realized that I could be working with college athletes for a living,” Sanders said. “I didn’t think twice about it, I flipped the script right there, threw the idea of medical school out the window and started my pursuit of being a collegiate strength coach.”

Sanders went on to obtain his master’s degree in sports conditioning and performance at the Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. 

Prior to his time with the Broncos, Sanders was a strength and conditioning intern for Division I Weber State in Ogden, Utah. He then went on to be a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Utah State University before landing the role as head strength and conditioning coach at CPP in 2016.

“As the new NCAA rules changed a few years ago regarding the administration of strength and conditioning programs, we knew we needed to hire a qualified and innovative strength and conditioning coach to not only direct it, but also build our program for current and long-term success — Sanders did just that.” said Brian Swanson, director of intercollegiate athletics. “Our student-athletes and coaches have benefited greatly from his impact on our Bronco teams.”

Now, Sanders is responsible for all 11 teams at CPP. His passion, dedication and care for his athletes are evident and his positive attitude is contagious. 

“If the athletes are off and I’m off, nobody is going to be happy,” Sanders said. “I have to make sure I am always dialed in, so whatever I have going on in my personal life, I can’t carry that over to my teams. They expect me to be the same way I am every day; I have to make sure I check my emotions at the door.”

Sanders’ lifelong dream of making an impact is now a reality and something he gets to do every day. Sanders has made an impression not only on his athletes, but the athletic department as a whole. 

Although he pushes his athletes to always do better and improve, the student athletes have nothing but positive things to say about Sanders.

“Chase is the epitome of a tough-love coach,” senior midfielder Ally LaCarra-Platt said. “He doesn’t settle for minimal effort and expects the best from his athletes each and every day.” 

“If he feels as if you’re not giving your all in a workout, he won’t hesitate to let you know,” LaCarra-Platt said. “With that being said, his high expectations for us brings out the best in each athlete every time we step into the weight room.”

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