Pat Sandora has worked 23 years in strength and conditioning dating back to his classes and internship at West Virginia University, starting in 1993. He spent 18 years in professional baseball including positions with the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox minor league teams before becoming the Head Major League strength coach of the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
Baseball was always Sandora’s love; he played throughout high school. When he was ready to launch his career, he searched for positions and saw that teams were looking for minor league strength coaches.
“I applied and was hired by Head Major League strength coach Tim Lang of the Texas Rangers. Tim gave me the opportunity because he felt that physical education teachers made ideal strength coaches. The opportunity that Tim gave me for that one season culminated into an 18-year career, so far,” Sandora said.
Sandora, who graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1996 and a master’s degree in athletic coaching in 2004, has numerous tips for current students who wish to follow his career path.
Sandora says students should take pride in their jobs as well as have patience. “The field is very competitive; you need to get experience. There are a lot of entry level opportunities, take advantage of them.
“You should have a passion for what you do, regardless of how minute the detail. Attention to details is a separator in athletics that should not be over looked. It could give you an edge,” Sandora added.
Sandora underlines the importance of finding what you want to do and becoming an expert in that field. “When athletes, coaches and front office personnel have questions, you need to supply the answers,” he explained.
Sandora is thankful for his time at WVU and cherishes the opportunity to return to Morgantown and speak with his mentors, like Associate Professor Emeritus Danial Ziatz. “Ultimately, I have had many educators, mentors and friends that have shaped my career and helped cultivate my coaching philosophy. All have helped me realize that we, as coaches, have the great privilege and opportunity to shape the minds and bodies of the next generation of very talented individuals.
“Dr. Dana Brooks, Dean, CPASS, helped connect the social implications of sport and how teams and athletes are perceived within a city and the cyclic impacts they have on one another. This was never more apparent to me than after the marathon bombing. How the players and the city fed off one another to form the teams’ identity was surreal. The city created a rally cry of Boston Strong that culminated in the team bringing the World Series title back to Boston for the city and the victims.
“WVU gave me the educational foundation and coaching opportunities to build the skills necessary to support my career choice,” Sandora added.
“Lastly, one of the take home messages that I received during my education at WVU was to lead with pride and dignity. You may not realize it now, but when you coach your athletes you are setting the standards for the next generation of coaching practitioners. They will emulate your coaching style. How do you want to be remembered?” Sandora concluded.