The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

A new female face in the weight room: Meet strength coach Cat Rossi

Coach Cat Rossi fell in love with strength training after injury ended her gymnastics career
New assistant strength and conditioning coach Cat Rossi. Photo courtesy of Cat Ross

Washington and Lee Athletics recently welcomed new strength and conditioning coach Cat Rossi to the weight room. Rossi brings a passion for the gym and determination to change the culture and perception of the field of athletics.

When Rossi was five years old, her parents signed her up for every sport her hometown had, including baseball. Two years later, she was enrolled in what would soon become one of her greatest passions and one of her biggest time commitments: gymnastics.

Rossi quickly progressed through all levels, and by the time she was 10 she was asked to be on a competition team. She fell so in love with the sport that she anticipated competing at the Division III collegiate level.

An injury ended Rossi’s ability to compete in gymnastics prior to her senior season in high school.

“Lifting came into my life at a time when  I really needed it,” she said.

Rossi and her friend would devote their time to the local gym. While adjusting to her life without gymnastics, Rossi said, the gym became a version of therapy for her. She taught herself how to squat, bench and deadlift, but what she loved most about the gym was constantly competing with herself each workout.

At Sacred Heart University, Rossi was pursuing a career in physical therapy, but she turned to strength training. She credits her success as a strength coach to her academic advisor Pete Ronai, who always guided her to explore what she loved.

Rossi remembers telling Ronai what she was truly passionate about.

“[I said,] ‘I love weightlifting. It’s what keeps me sane, and I train Monday through Friday. I will skip class sometimes if I cannot find free time in my day because that’s how much it improves my mood,’” Rossi said.

So Rossi turned to strength and conditioning. Although Rossi loves what she does, she has faced adversity while becoming a female coach in a predominantly male field.

Rossi said that in every institution she has attended or interned at, the head of strength and conditioning has always been a man. Rossi has worked alongside various female strength and conditioning coaches along the way, but has found the field to be male-dominated.

Rossi urges all women to take the leap of faith and go after the field of strength and conditioning. She said each woman who decides to enter the field is changing the culture of athletics and the perception that collegiate athletics is a male-dominated profession.

Rossi strives to empower women to hit the gym and not to fear being judged or watched. She said good friends hold one another accountable when you have a goal, and there is strength in numbers.

Rossi said she hopes to positively impact and inspire student-athletes to move and live well. She is committed to developing and cultivating a culture that is based on building strong and trusting relationships with each student athlete.

Rossi leaves women who are chasing their dreams in the field of strength and conditioning with one final piece of advice: never let go of chasing after your passion, and do not let anyone silence you or make you feel inferior to them.

Rossi shared a quote that hangs in her office, which she reads multiple times a day: “Well behaved women seldom make history,” coined by feminist writer Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

She urges female athletes all over to take the leap and be great.

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    Michael TylerSep 26, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    Yeah Cat!! So proud of you❤️