In November, Kenyon welcomed Michael Navratil as the new director of strength and conditioning and assistant director of the Lowry Center. Navratil replaced Brett Worsham, who left in September after three years in Gambier.
Navratil, a Cleveland native, found his way into strength and conditioning during his time on the Youngstown State University track and field team. He noted that dealing with sports injuries gave him a unique entryway into the field. “I was able to basically just find a different avenue to be involved in sports without having to be a sport coach,” he said.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, Navratil stayed at Youngstown State to work in the athletic department, before moving on to the University of Wyoming and later Robert Morris University (Pa.), serving as a strength and conditioning coach for each of the two universities.
Navratil then returned to Ohio to earn his master’s degree from the University of Akron, while also serving as their strength and conditioning coach. He then transitioned to the private sector, where he worked remotely training both professional athletes and the general population. After his wife, Sophia Grier, took a job as the senior assistant tennis coach for the Kenyon tennis teams, Navratil returned to college coaching at the College of Wooster.
When the strength and conditioning position at Kenyon opened up, he said that it was too good of an opportunity to refuse. “It was just kind of the perfect storm in terms of work-life balance, which is a huge thing,” he said.
Navratil believes the most important part of his role is to lay down a strong foundation to help student-athletes. He said a big focus is to help students maintain their health, while also working to help them improve as athletes. “Meeting the demands and meeting the athletes where they are is going to be a huge aspect of that,” he said.
In addition to his role as a coach, Navratil was also appointed as the assistant director of the Lowry Center. In this role, his focus is on the broader Kenyon community and making sure that the Lowry Center is an inclusive and comfortable space for all community members. “My big focus is … being able to make it a more encompassing and holistic experience for not just the athletes, but also the students, faculty and community members of Gambier,” he said.
Though Navratil has only been at Kenyon for a short time, he has already found it to be a welcoming environment. “In terms of the athletic department, we’re all focused on improving the experience of the athletes that we work with, but everybody is super welcoming,” he said.
As Navratil settles into his role, his two main goals are forming more personal relationships with the student-athletes and developing a sense of consistency in student-athletes’ strength and conditioning programs through establishing schedules that work best for the athletes. “I think if I can accomplish those two things … everything else will kind of fall into place,” he said.