Libby native returns to coach at Montana State

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Libby native John Sauer recently joined the Montana State University Bobcats' strength and conditioning staff after spending 31 years at The College of William & Mary in Virginia. Sauer serves at Montana State's Director of Olympic Sports on the strength and conditioning staff. (Photo courtesy Montana State University)

Libby native John Sauer has come home to Montana.

According to information from Montana State University, Sauer has hit the ground running in Bozeman and brings impressive credentials to the Montana State Athletics Staff.

Sauer, a 1977 Libby High School graduate, joined the Bobcats’ strength and conditioning staff in July after spending the previous 31 years at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He serves as Montana State’s Director of Olympic Sports on the strength and conditioning staff.

“To be honest, I never thought this opportunity would come up in my career. When it did, it was a no brainer for me,” Sauer said. “To come here and be a part of coach (Alex) Willcox’s staff and to come back to Montana and be part of Montana State University Athletics, I just never expected it. I didn’t expect the opportunity in my career, so I was on board and all in. It’s a great opportunity and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Sauer was William & Mary’s first full-time strength and conditioning coach in 1988. He worked with all aspects of strength and conditioning for the Tribe’s 23 varsity sports during his career. Under his guidance, at least one Tribe football player earned All-America strength honors for 30 consecutive seasons. From 1996-98, Sauer was recognized as the Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Association through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

In July of 2010, Sauer was honored for his work with the Tribe when William & Mary named its training area in his honor. In 2005, Sauer was one of seven coaches nationwide recognized as a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach (MSCC).

The Master designation is the highest honor that can be achieved as a strength and conditioning coach.

Prior to William & Mary, Sauer made stops at Clemson, Utah and Southern Methodist. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana and a master’s degree from Delta State. Sauer is certified through the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.

Sauer was born and raised in Libby and his mother, Judy Sauer still lives here. His father, John Francis Sauer, died in 2018.

He played football and participated in track with the Loggers.

“I didn’t have a tremendous high school career but it was fun and I worked at it,” Sauer said in a previous The Western News story.

Sauer’s routine included working out on the universal weight machine located upstairs in the gym.

“We’d go up there and I didn’t know what I was doing but it was something I was interested in,” Sauer said. “I’d do the same thing every day.”

Following graduation, he headed to the University of Montana. Mike Van Diest, the legendary head football coach at Carroll College who retired in 2018, was the strength and conditioning coach for the Grizzlies at the time.

“At Montana, I got into some powerlifting and that kind of pointed me in this direction,” Sauer said then. “Mike Van Diest, he helped me get started in this career.”

Sauer earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education at UM and took the position of head coach of strength and conditioning at Delta State in Mississippi. Sauer earned his master’s at Delta State and then moved around the country a little.

He held positions at Southern Methodist, Utah and Clemson before settling down in 1988 at William & Mary.

“It was kind of a pain moving around like that but that’s part of this profession,” he said. “It’s very rare for someone to stay at one place as long as I have.”

In 1995, Sauer designed the Joseph W. Montgomery Strength Training Center, a 5,500-foot facility that was upgraded in the spring of 2006.

The room now features 16,000 pounds of free weights, over 7,500 pounds of dumbbells and 6,000 pounds of rubber bumper plates.

Sauer has had a football player earn All-America honors for more than two decadesthe past 21 seasons and many have gone on to the National Football League.

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