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Lifting athletes to new heights: UWS strength coach works to make an impact

P.J. Piotrowski oversees more than 300 Yellowjacket athletes in 19 different sports programs.

UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach, P.J. Piotrowski, stands in the doorway of the athletics weight room
UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach, P.J. Piotrowski, stands in the doorway of the athletics weight room in the basement of the Marcovich Wellness Center on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, on the UWS campus.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

SUPERIOR — The University of Wisconsin-Superior has welcomed many new hires to the UWS campus this year. Still, one of the most notable additions to the Yellowjacket family has been the hiring of P.J. Piotrowski, the first-ever full-time strength and conditioning coach at UWS. 

UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach P.J. Piotrowski
UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach P.J. Piotrowski explains the morning workout to the UWS baseball team at the Marcovich Wellness Center on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, in Superior, Wis.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Being the first-time anything can be a challenging idea to live up to, but Piotrowski views it as two sides to a coin. In his role, Piotrowski oversees more than 300 Yellowjacket athletes in 19 different sports programs.

“Definitely a daunting task, coming to a school that has zero strength and conditioning, from a formal standpoint. It’s definitely a daunting task,” said Piotrowski. “I think the other fun part when you flip it and look at it from the other side of the coin is that, hey, nobody has any of these preconceived notions of what this should be, what this looks like, or how this is going to run. We have this blank canvas, so to speak, to be able to make our own masterpiece.” 

Though it’s only been a few months since his debut, according to Hailey Atwood, a junior and volleyball athlete at UWS, it’s clear that Piotrowski’s “masterpiece” is already well on its way to creating a lasting mark on UWS athletics. 

“I think P.J. brings a new and fresh perspective to UWS and has positively impacted the program,” said Atwood. “He brings a lot of drive and passion into the program through what he does and how he goes about the strength and conditioning sessions. You can tell that he wants everyone to improve and perform at their highest level, and he is excited to help us get to that point.” 

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Despite the job’s challenges, being the head of strength and conditioning at a school has always been a goal for Piotrowski.

UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach, P.J. Piotrowski, leads the baseball team in stretching before their workout
UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach P.J. Piotrowski leads the baseball team in stretching before their workout Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, on the UWS campus in Superior, Wis.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“This was always the big stepping stone,” said Piotrowski. “To run your own program, be director of strength and conditioning, director of sports performance, head strength coach, or whatever you want to call it. That was always kind of the goal, was to be the head of my own department.”
Although Piotrowski has accomplished his professional goal, his biggest ambition is to positively impact the athletes he works with every day.

“That will always be the most fun part of my job, is the athletes I get to work with,” said Piotrowski. “If I can be the kind of person to help you out and make your experience here as a student-athlete a little bit more fun, or a little bit more enjoyable; and just be a good human being and help people along the way. I think that’s the biggest piece.” 

UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach P.J. Piotrowski walks through the baseball team as they stretch
UW-Superior strength and conditioning coach P.J. Piotrowski walks through the baseball team as they stretch before their workout Thursday morning, Feb. 3, 2022, on the UWS campus.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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