Caitlin “Cay” Manuel wears Seahawk t-shirt

January 25, 2021

With both parents being head coaches of various sports, Caitlin “Cay” Manuel spent most of her life on athletic fields, sidelines or in dugouts in Virginia.

“Watching my amazing parents be wonderful people to so many young adults and making a lasting impact inspired me to follow in their footsteps and have my strength and conditioning career do the same,” said Manuel, an assistant strength and conditioning coach in UNCW Athletics. “Helping young adults throughout their sports career and beyond both physically and mentally is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Prior to coming to UNCW in October 2020, Manuel worked for five years with the University of Arizona’s CATS Strength and Conditioning Program as an assistant performance enhancement coach for women’s basketball, women’s golf and track and field teams, and also worked previously with the cross country and men’s golf teams. She began her career in Blacksburg, VA, as a graduate assistant coach for the Virginia Tech Olympic Strength and Conditioning Program from 2013-15.

Manuel was introduced to the strength and conditioning world by Dave Koon, a strength and conditioning coach with Naval Special Warfare Development Group and a former head strength and conditioning coach at CJW Sports Medicine Center in Midlothian, VA.

“It only took one training session with Koon during my high school career and I was hooked,” she said. “I approached him after and asked, ‘what is it you do and how do I get where you are?’ From then on, I knew I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach.”

After graduating from Roanoke College, Manuel worked under Mike Gentry and Terry Mitchell at Virginia Tech; mentors who still advise her today. “Because of these people, I was able to push my career further with great opportunities like working at the University of Arizona under Jim Krumpos and Rob Harris,” she continued. “Each stop along my journey to UNCW helped mold me into the strength coach I am today and I needed to mention them to say thank you. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of UNCW, and having the privilege of working with Brad Moore and Jordan Kincaide in the strength and conditioning department.”

If Manuel could describe her experience at UNCW in three words, she said they would be fulfilling, fun and educational.

“The UNCW community is special to me because of the support I receive from administration and fellow staff members,” she said. “I feel humbled and grateful in assisting student-athletes achieve their goals.”

-Venita Jenkins