Hilbert College’s new coach helping students succeed athletically
By Daniel Meyer
In just a few short months on the job, Matthew Diegelman is making a difference in the everyday lives of student athletes at Hilbert College in the town of Hamburg.
As the athletic department’s first-ever strength and conditioning coach since the college began competing at the NCAA Division III level, Diegelman is laying the foundation of a comprehensive strength and conditioning program, a challenge the Hamburg native is embracing with great enthusiasm.
“The best part of this job is not only did I grow up in Hamburg, I currently live here,” said Diegelman, a 1998 graduate of Hamburg High School and 2002 graduate of Buffalo State College. “To have a strength and conditioning job at a college or with a professional sports organization in the town you grew up in is not likely something that you will find very often. Hamburg is a great area for raising a family and many of my family members still live in the area. I’m very thankful to have found a career that allows us to be near everything my family enjoys.”
Diegelman works closely with the coaching staffs and athletes who are involved with the 13 teams that represent Hilbert College. Much like he did when he established the strength and conditioning program at Division I Niagara University, Diegelman’s approach to his position involves plenty of one-on-one training sessions and constant communication with coaches and students.
“We have a great group of coaches and athletes that I am really enjoying working with each and every day I come to work,” said Diegelman, the son of Mark and Theresa Diegelman of the village of Hamburg. “I’m very excited and grateful about this opportunity to start the first-ever strength and conditioning program at Hilbert College. I feel my years of experience and knowledge of the industry will help our athletes succeed.”
Hilbert College officials hired Diegelman because of his previous track record of accomplishments with the athletics department at Niagara University.
“Matt brings a wealth of experience with him into the strength program,” said John Czarnecki, Hilbert College’s athletics director. “The student athletes will gain a lot from his knowledge and ultimately become healthier, grow stronger and have a more positive experience representing Hilbert College on any one of our 13 teams.”
Diegelman is actually the first strength and conditioning coach in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, with his work at Hilbert likely to eventually influence the other nine AMCC members to consider establishing strength and conditioning programs by hiring a full-time employee in a capacity similar to Diegelman’s current position.
“It’s not only the AMCC but there are other Division III and there are still some Division II and Division I schools who do not have strength and conditioning coaches, but I’m sure that will be changing,” said Diegelman. “I know many of the athletes here at Hilbert are excited about this opportunity to follow a program.
Adding strength to program
“Strength coaches are an integral part of any athletics program. Athletic performance enhancement, general health and wellbeing and having the chance to help reduce some injuries are just some of the benefits of having a strength and conditioning coach. If you have two equally talented teams but one is more physically prepared, we all know who has a better chance at winning.”
Diegelman worked at Niagara University from 2006 through 2015, where he implemented specific strength, agility, speed and power programs for the 18 Division I sports programs. He also provided comprehensive plans for strength training, speed development, agility training and nutritional plans for Niagara’s student athletes during their off-seasons.
Diegelman also has experience teaching at Canisius College as an adjunct professor, leading masters-level courses for that school’s health and human performance department. In addition, he previously worked as an athletic training and health and fitness instructor.
Diegelman gained valuable experience during a 2002 internship with the Buffalo Bills and a 2005 internship involving the Buffalo Sabres, both of which provided him with in-depth exposure to how strength and conditioning programs are conducted at the professional sports level.
“My internships introduced me to the many concepts of sports strength and conditioning and working in athletics,” said Diegelman. “Both of these internships ultimately guided me in how I train my athletes today. While I do use many of my own ideas, those internships definitely guided me down the right path and helped me get to where I am today. I also was fortunate to meet so many different people who worked in those two organizations. I also had the chance to meet some great athletes, coaches and other staff members, all of whom are people who helped mentor me.”
Diegelman also serves as the department’s athletic facility coordinator responsible for the Hawks practice and game field scheduling, safety and upkeep of the Hafner Recreation Center’s Fitness Center as well as game management supervision of any athletic competition that takes place on the Hilbert College campus.
Diegelman, who also holds a Master of Science degree in health and human performance from Canisius College, is confident his long-term strategic plan will help improve the lives of Hilbert’s student athletes both on the playing field and courts as well as in the classroom.
“You want well-rounded students and I think part of my job indirectly provides guidance and advice on time management and structuring your daily routine so that you schedule time to be active and attempt to stay physically fit,” said Diegelman. “The students I have worked with so far have been great in that they understand the importance of conditioning and how staying focused and dedicated are crucial to succeeding in whatever you do in life.”