Wyatt Duncan, Contributing Writer
North Greenville University Strength and Conditioning coach Kaitlyn Bernardi has worked at the school for almost five years, and her position has quickly expanded.
Bernardi is an alumnae of North Greenville and was active in the university’s athletics program while she was here as a student. Bernardi played for North Greenville’s volleyball team from 2008 to 2012 and competed in high jump for the school’s Cross-Country team in her final semester as a student, in the spring of 2012.
Bernardi was originally hired to work under her husband, Andre’ Bernardi, who was the head strength and conditioning coach when Bernardi signed on with NGU athletics. Bernardi says, “We weren’t training all the teams at that time, only the ones who asked for it. [Strength and conditioning] was a newer aspect to NGU athletics. Football, softball and woman’s basketball were using a strength coach, but as more teams became involved, they realized that we needed it to be more staffed and it would be great if we had a female to train our female sports.”
Now, Bernardi’s position has grown from just female teams to all of the NGU-sanctioned athletic teams.
As strength and conditioning coach, Bernardi oversees all of the strength and conditioning for the 19 teams on campus. Those trainings are different for each team.
“Different coaches want us to train in different ways,” Bernardi says. “Some coaches will handle their own strength and conditioning, for example, women’s basketball wants us to work on improving verticals, lateral movement and getting stronger. In terms of the conditioning aspect, having the athletes ready to play in a game, they want to handle that up on the court.”
Other teams, like the football team, use the strength and conditioning facilities and coaching staff to handle both strength training and game preparation.
Bernardi is one of two female strength and conditioning coaches in South Carolina and is blazing trails in training student athletes to be the best version of themselves they can be.
“Her coaching this semester has been phenomenal,” says Bethany Fowler, freshman broadcast media major and NGU cheerleader. “She (Bernardi) explains and demonstrates every exercise.”
Fowler explains that Bernardi has a passion for her students, and their safety, making sure to strengthen their wrists, shoulders, ankles and other joints to make them as strong and resilient as possible for some of the stunts they are asked to perform.
Fowler comments, “My favorite part about having her as a coach is her willingness to learn about cheerleading.” Fowler says that Bernardi is concerned with what her athletes are concerned with, and that her passion for their sports makes her a better coach.
“Hard work is going to pay off. When your priorities are set, when the goal is to better the athlete and when your love is for the athletes, that is what sets you apart.” Bernardi says. She is set apart by her passion and compassion for her athletes.
Bernardi is, as Fowler put it, “breaking the glass ceiling” and proving to North Greenville that anything is possible, even if you’re the first one to do it.