Sandra Torres has led Freedom High School’s cheer team to new heights during her 13 years as head coach.
Now she’s set to expand her routine.
The longtime English teacher and cheer coach has been tapped to serve as the Falcons’ athletic director following Steve Amaro’s promotion to assistant principal.
“It’s a fun place to be and a fun place to coach,” Torres said. “I have always really enjoyed it and loved watching all the different sports on campus…I am excited for the new challenge.”
Torres has elevated the Falcons cheer team in her time guiding the squad.
Just a handful of the team’s achievements have included winning traditional competitive cheer national championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011; finishing as national runner-ups in 2014, 2015 and 2017; winning a state championship in 2018 and winning back-to-back North Coast Section competitive sport cheer titles the past two seasons and reaching the state semifinals last school year.
The former Bay Valley Athletic League Coach of the Year was also instrumental in turning cheer into a sanctioned California Interscholastic Federation sport and ensuring the BVAL adopted the sport in its inaugural competitive sport cheer season.
In her new role, she will oversee the Falcons’ entire athletic program, which includes guaranteeing the school complies with various rules, overseeing the athletic budget and facilities, supporting coaches, planning fundraisers, tournaments and events, and handling athletic clearances.
She will continue teaching English in a part-time capacity and will carry on with her cheer coaching duties.
“We are truly looking forward to having Sandy come in as athletic director,” said Kelly Manke. “Her passion for kids and athletics certainly makes her a top choice. She’s a talented coach and her ability to work with students and staff will continue to help Freedom thrive in the community.”
Torres voluntarily enrolled in the district’s Aspiring Administrators Academy last year, with an eye to being an athletic director in the distant future. But her chance came quicker than expected with Amaro’s role change.
“I was a little hesitant because it was something I had thought about for down the road, but then I thought, if it’s open I can apply. Maybe it’s meant to be sooner than I thought,” she said.
Despite the quick transition, Amaro affirmed Torres is more than ready to take over.
“Throughout Coach Torres’ tenure here at Freedom, she has been respected as a leader and advocate for all athletics,” he said. “What sets her apart is that she works to find ways to make our community better and understands that high school sports is a powerful way to teach students character. I am excited to see her in this new role as we work to make Freedom and our students the best they can be.”
Torres said she’s excited for the opportunity to build on Amaro’s success, noting she has a passion for sports, running athletic programs and, just recently, felt a desire to expand her campus role beyond the classroom.
“I just want to continue in his footsteps and learn as much as I can, support the coaches and the programs,” she said.
Two of Torres’ most immediate high-profile tasks involve filling Amaro’s vacated position as the school’s boys’ and girls’ tennis coach and finding a new varsity basketball head coach after her husband, Drew, resigned after 15 years to spend more time with his family — especially the couple’s 8-year-old son, who has taken an increased interest in participating in recreational sports.
Torres said this week she looks forward to mentoring young coaches and watching programs grow — activities she has witnessed in her long coaching career, which previously included stints coaching cheer squads at Carondelet and Antioch high schools.
Like many coaches, she did not find early success, but with perseverance and help from mentors, she honed her craft and has been rewarded with the results.
“There is nothing more satisfying than working with a group of young people and watching them reach their full potential, and seeing the look on their face when they overachieve and feel so proud,” she said.
Torres admits, however, that she is far from finished being mentored herself, especially in her new position.
She joked this week that her list of athletic director duties appears to grow by the day, and she is unsure of the full scope of challenges that lie ahead.
But she has a talented group of athletes and contests to look forward to, and her predecessor will not be far if she needs some help.
“(Amaro) has done an amazing job for 16 years, so it’s just continuing the traditions we already have established and the level of expectations and excellence in our sports program that he’s established,” she said.