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Creighton head coach Elmar Bolowich announced his resignation to become Executive Director of Armada Youth FC in Jacksonville, Florida, and CU athletic director Bruce Rasmussen announced that assistant coach Johnny Torres would be promoted as his successor. 

Johnny Torres was there on the night four years ago that Creighton’s senior midfielder first arrived in Omaha.

Torres picked up Joel Rydstrand at the airport and gave him a quick driving tour of the city. They talked about the CU campus and the program. Torres had the newcomer from Sweden thinking a bit, and laughing some, and mostly just feeling at ease.

The bond only grew after that. And Rydstrand’s certain that most of his teammates could share a similar story about the connection they’ve formed with Torres, whose personable nature and caring spirit resonate with players.

So even though Rydstrand’s Creighton career has ended — he won’t get to experience CU’s next chapter firsthand — he’s pretty sure he knows what future Jays players can expect from a coach like Torres.

“He’s very interactive, making sure you’re all right,” Rydstrand said. “But if you’re doing something wrong, he’ll tell you straight up. He doesn’t hold back, which brings another dimension into the relationship. If you can both praise and also tell someone they’re doing something wrong, I think that’s a good attribute to have.”

Torres, a former Bluejay star and a 12-year assistant, was named Creighton’s coach Monday.

He replaces Elmar Bolowich, who resigned Monday after eight seasons. Bolowich has accepted a job as the executive director of Armada Youth FC in Jacksonville, Florida. Bolowich, the all-time winningest coach at North Carolina, led the CU program to two College Cups and four regular-season league championships.

It’s a leadership change that was announced just a few hours after the Jays learned they’d missed the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

Creighton won the Big East regular-season crown and spent most of the 2018 campaign ranked in the coaches Top 25 — but its résumé lacked quality wins and its 2-2-2 finish proved costly. CU participated in 24 of 25 NCAA tournaments from 1992 to 2016.

Torres said in a statement that Monday was an “emotional” day.

“I’m sad to see (Bolowich) go and I was lucky to be able to learn from such a tremendous man,” Torres said. “With that being said, I’m very excited and happy for the opportunity to be at the forefront of one of the best programs in the country, and a special one in that it’s my alma mater.”

Torres earned national player of the year honors in 1996 and 1997, ending his CU career as the Missouri Valley Conference’s leader in scoring and assists.

After returning to Creighton’s campus and joining the staff in 2007, Torres was named the national assistant coach of the year in 2012. He received regional assistant coach of the year awards in 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said in a statement that Torres has “earned” this promotion.

Ross Paule, the four-year women’s soccer coach, would agree. He and Torres were teammates on the Jays’ first College Cup team in 1996. Paule’s watched Torres’ growth ever since.

“He’s such a great fit for it, and he deserves it,” Paule said. “He puts all of his effort in making a difference. He’s going to build character, and really help set up these boys for success in life.”

Torres’ first on-field challenge will be trying to replace the Big East offensive player of the year (Sven Koenig) and the league’s midfielder of the year (Rydstrand). Four other seniors, including captain and second-team all-conference defender Mitch LaGro, have also departed.

Plus, CU’s coaches were just recognized as the Big East’s top staff after the 2018 regular-season run. But Bolowich said in a statement that it’s the “right time” for him to move on.

Torres will take charge now. He’s likely to make an impact on the guys right away, according to Rydstrand.

“I’d be discussing games with him and he’s saying he hasn’t been able to sleep the last two nights after a loss,” Rydstrand said. “He’s very passionate, both as a coach and as a human being. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him.”

 

Reporter - Creighton athletics

Jon covers Creighton athletics, the College World Series and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @JonNyatawa. Phone: 402-444-6611

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