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New Director of Strength and Conditioning Stefan Montanez has established a known and admired presence at Country Day. The goal "Coach Mont" promotes is the same value our athletic program has always maintained —building a stronger community

Coach Month in weight room

Prior to starting his new role in July, Coach Mont previously served as a Country Day Middle School physical education teacher and assistant strength and conditioning coach. He majored in Exercise Science and Human Performance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he worked with the UNC Football strength and conditioning team. After graduating, he worked with Elon Football, Belmont Abbey Athletics, and the United Army Special Operations Commands at Fort Bragg.

Coach Mont brings a unique perspective to the Strength and Conditioning program. He is focused on using his established relationships within the community to build a stronger, more unified program for all levels within our program. One way to achieve this is leading by example.

"As a coach and teacher, I model the actions and the behaviors that I desire to see from a Country Day Buccaneer. I challenge our student-athletes physically and mentally, but always do so in a way that makes them feel respected and valued."

Coach Mont trains athletes of all skill levels to help improve overall fitness with the ability to focus on improving or developing a particular performance skill. The expertise brought to the program allows athletes to improve their performance while also reducing the risk of injury. 

Programming is a combination of strength training, speed and agility training, power training, and skill-related drills. Coach Mont emphasizes empowering student-athletes to take hold of their personal goals. "My first step towards empowerment is getting to know my athletes and their goals," he said. "A few questions I ask them to consider: Do you want to compete in collegiate athletics? Do you want to make the varsity team and compete for a state championship? Do you want to learn about holistic fitness and wellness? What are your academic and personal goals?" Through these conversations, Montanez connects with his student-athletes to ensure their training is tailored toward their goals and needs. "I make time to acknowledge and congratulate them for their efforts and accomplishments," he said.

Four Guiding Principals

Coach Mont has four specific guiding principles he has built his program around and continues to reinforce. He uses these principles as foundational elements for personal and team development:

  1. Do the Uncommon
    "Each of us has significance and greatness, but at times it can be untapped. I teach my student-athletes to be the most, do the most, and make the most of their day to fulfill their own greatness."

  2. Live True
    "Truth and honesty are important virtues. I expect accountability among my student-athletes, and no matter how difficult it may be, always tell the truth. In one's life, you will make mistakes and failures, but it is what you do after things do not go your way that matters most."

  3. Encourage Others 
    "I align my department and program with our Affirmation of Community. The weight room will always be a space of inclusion and equity. We all come from different backgrounds and environments, but we should celebrate each other's strengths rather than seek other's weaknesses."

  4. Seek to Know 
    "By the time a student leaves this program, I want them to own everything they do. Part of that equation is a deep understanding of why we train and how we train. I seek to empower our student-athletes to learn the X's and O's of strength and conditioning so they understand how it positively impacts performance."

Coach Month teaching

"Much of my job is dependent upon the relationships that I have with coaches, parents, student-athletes, and the athletic department," Montanez said. "In a room with various forms of equipment and sometimes numbers as high as 60 student-athletes, I always ensure that safety is a priority."

Montanez's Philosophy

Part of Montanez's philosophy as a coach is viewing the holistic perspective of a student-athlete. He says it is imperative adolescents eat properly, get enough sleep, and make time for academics in addition to their respective sports. He incorporates a wellness piece into data analytics by asking athletes to complete a training readiness questionnaire that evaluates stress levels, fatigue, hydration, hours of sleep, and motivation to train. These metrics help track athletes and collaborate with pertinent stakeholders when necessary, including conversations with coaches about outliers from baseline statistics, check-ins with athletes about well-being, and insight into how athletes are feeling about their programs. He also works closely with our Sports Medicine team to assess our athletic teams' wellness and any training modifications if necessary. They all evaluate trends of injury and training protocols to ensure that each of our student-athletes is trained optimally for their specific sports performance.

Positive Impact of the new Weight Room 

Coach Mont's goal for the strength and conditioning department is to have a positive impact on as many Buccaneers as possible, and our new weight room helps reach that goal. With 18 training stations, the weight room can comfortably fit 64 student-athletes at one time. The addition of our new equipment and larger space creates room for team building and inclusion among all athletes. 

Coach Mont has reinforced that the weight room is an inclusive space but is also a room for challenge and growth. "Leadership and communication are two significant tenants in the weight room. I lean on the older, upper-class students and student-athletes to lead by example," he said. "It is important that younger athletes see leadership within their older peers and learn from them. It is important that these leaders model positive behaviors in and outside of the weight room." 

Country Day new weight room

Under Coach Mont's direction, all Country Day athletes and students have the ability to leave the program with the understanding that the strength and conditioning department not only positively impacted their athletic development but aided in building them as well-rounded people. "Our Country Day Buccaneers will grow in their communication, leadership, knowledge of body systems, and work ethic," he said. Some of my favorite moments are when an alum comes back from college to share how they are doing and how much strength and conditioning meant to them."

For questions about the strength and conditioning program, reach out to Stefan Montanez,