The Charger Blog

Alumna, Chargers Coach Qualifies for National Weightlifting Competition

Monica Ruiz '18 M.S., the University's assistant strength and conditioning coach, is devoted to helping her student-athletes achieve their athletic goals. She recently accomplished one of her own: qualifying for the Raw Powerlifting Nationals, which she competes in this week.

October 15, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Monica Ruiz '18 M.S.
Monica Ruiz '18 M.S. (second from left) and her teammates after winning an All-American award at the Division III Track and Field Nationals.

As a high school student in Iowa, Monica Ruiz '18 M.S. the University of New Haven's assistant strength and conditioning coach, was a member of her school's softball team. Her coach helped her discover an interest in weight training. After spending a year in a training program, she saw progress both in the weight room and on the field.

When she joined the women's track and field team at Central College in Iowa, Ruiz continued lifting weights several times a week as part of her training. Ruiz, who earned All-American honors, saw her sprint performance improved over her four years. She continued lifting weights after her collegiate career concluded.

"It's always great to accomplish a goal you've set for yourself, especially when it's something you really enjoy doing."Monica Ruiz '18 M.S.

"I enjoyed feeling strong and it gave me a new confidence in myself," said Ruiz. "I have been a competitor all my life, and I wanted something I could do that fulfilled that competitive nature in me."

Last August, she began training in powerlifting, a sport in which athletes lift as much weight as possible for one rep in three different exercises: squat, bench press, and deadlift. She competed in her first meet in February, and she has now participated in three meets. She's now gearing up for the Raw Powerlifting Nationals in Lombard, Illinois that start on October 16. There she'll compete against nearly 100 women in her weight class from across the country.

"When I found out I had qualified for the competition, I felt a sense of relief and calmness that something I had worked so hard for paid off," she said. "It's always great to accomplish a goal you've set for yourself, especially when it's something you really enjoy doing."

Monica Ruiz '18 M.S.
Monica Ruiz '18 M.S. typically weight trains three times per week.

Ruiz typically weight trains three times per week and dedicates one or two days to cardio-based training. After training hard for five weeks, she modified her training regimen to focus on preparing for the event in which more than 1,300 athletes – including beginners and elite athletes – will compete.

"I believe being an athlete helps me relate to the athletes I train," she said. "I am competing again, just like they are. I understand their physical and mental demands and time management requirements. I believe this helps me build strong personal relationships with them, enabling me to get to know them as people, not just as athletes."

Ruiz's passion for athletics, which she discovered as a college student, has become a career. An exercise science major, she studied strength and conditioning as well as first aid, anatomy, and nutrition. A graduate of the University of New Haven's master's degree program in sport management, she is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

"The best part about working with the athletes is seeing their progression from beginning to end," she said. "It's also great to see them do things they didn't believe they could do, especially the female athletes. There is a stigma associated with women and lifting weights, and I enjoy helping them see the benefits it brings."

Ruiz plans to take part in more lifting competitions, and she hopes to keep strengthening her career as an athlete.

"I think I've made strides in the year that I've been lifting, and I hope to keep building on that momentum," she said. "Ultimately, I'd like to keep competing as long as possible and get to the highest level possible to be a real contender at the national level."