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The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

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Coach Barrett Saunders Steps Beyond The Track and Takes Position As New Strength And Fitness Instructor

Coach Barrett Saunders instructs senior, Jacob Heilpern, in his weight lifting to instill the correct form in his students. Photo by Stella Liberman.
Coach Barrett Saunders instructs senior, Jacob Heilpern, in his weight lifting to instill the correct form in his students. Photo by Stella Liberman.

Students taking the strength and fitness class can expect to see a new face in the Upper School weight room. Starting this semester, Head Track and Field Coach Barrett Saunders is taking over the class from varsity football coach, Eric Kresser. 

“I am doing some other football-related activities in the mornings, some of which include working with former college players aspiring to make the NFL. I will still be at school everyday but Coach Saunders will take over the weight room classes. He is very knowledgeable in that role, and I have no doubt that he will do great in the new position,” Kresser said. 

Although stepping down, Kresser has made a long-lasting impact on the physical education program at Benjamin and the students as well. His influence is shown in the newly-renovated workout gym and new equipment students now have access to. 

“When Coach Kresser came in, he helped us make the transition from the typical program of dodgeball, kickball, and capture the flag, to fitness classes and strength and conditioning. When we renovated the gym, he was a huge part of the design process and selected lots of the equipment that he felt would be most beneficial to the students,” Upper School Athletic Director Ryan Smith explained.

Commenting on his motivations for taking the position, Saunders noted that he hopes to improve Benjamin student-athletes’ well-being.

“As a Benjamin alumnus, I wanted to help the students and student-athletes become more well-rounded by being able to learn how to lift and demonstrate proper weight room etiquette, so they can become better overall athletes. I am hoping to improve the P.E. program, [the goal] is to build a culture of everybody wanting to come in and be excited to work out and get the work in,” Saunders said. 

In his new role, Saunders is focused on using physical education to develop the whole student.

“My biggest goal is to have each kid figure out what their potential is in the weight room so they can become better well-rounded athletes and people in general,” Saunders noted. 

Stemming from this desire to improve student-athletes as people, Saunders is looking forward to connecting with Benjamin students beyond the track team.

“I have been around for a while coaching, so I know a lot of Benjamin students, but I’m most excited about meeting the kids I haven’t met […] and spend[ing] more time [with them],” Saunders stated. 

Smith is excited about Saunders’s values, credentials, and what he will bring to the program in the future. 

“First and foremost, Coach Saunders is just a great person–just an A plus person. He’s a kid-first coach and teacher. He has a knowledge base that is outstanding: 15 plus years working in the fitness [and] strength training area. His expertise is invaluable,” Smith explained. 

Students as well as teachers and administrators are looking forward to seeing how Saunders can transform the program and the difference that he can make. 

Coach Saunders helps sophomore Chase Connor as he lifts during his strength and fitness class. Photo by Stella Liberman.

“I really enjoy the aspect of working out at school. I find it interesting how we have set workouts [everyday], so people who don’t know how to work out are learning inside and outside of school,” freshman Sloane Tuohey said.

Overall, it seems that Saunders is thrilled to take on the new position and engage with the Benjamin community beyond the track team. He is hoping to leverage his experience to motivate Benjamin students to do their best in the weight room and further give them the confidence to take care of their bodies.

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Stella Liberman, Staff Writer

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