Johnny Torres stays true to his school, achieves longtime aim to become Creighton soccer coach

New Creighton head coach Johnny Torres was national player of the year as a Bluejay in 1996 and an assistant for 12 years. “It’s a special place,” he said.

Johnny Torres isn’t afraid to admit that he’ll face a few challenges at his new job, given that he’s never been a head coach and that he’s taking over a tradition-rich program on a downswing.

But he’s spent the past 12 years preparing for this — even if he wasn’t exactly envisioning this.

“Obviously it was something I always wanted to pursue,” Torres said. “I never knew 100 percent on whether or not it would come to fruition, especially as quickly as it did. But nevertheless, I’m delighted.”

Torres, named Creighton’s new men’s soccer coach Monday, addressed reporters at an introductory press conference Tuesday.

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The 42-year-old former Bluejay star was the only candidate for the position, which opened briefly after eight-year coach Elmar Bolowich informed the administration Monday that he was resigning. Torres met with Creighton athletic department officials that afternoon. His hiring was announced a few hours later.

The transition could be seamless. That appears to be Torres’ hope.

He said Tuesday that he’s not planning to change much.

The Jays are still aiming to win conference championships and make deep NCAA tournament runs. They’ll still benefit from administrative and community support. They’ll still be looking to enrich the lives of their players.

That was the same approach in place here two decades ago when Torres was on the roster — he helped lead CU to its first College Cup in 1996. He said his own experience at Creighton is what he wants to replicate for the guys he’ll now mentor.

“It’s a place that’s very dear to my heart.”

That, he said, is the reason he’s remained on Creighton’s staff for 12 years, hardly wondering about what he could gain if he aggressively pursued head coaching jobs elsewhere.

He was learning from Bolowich. His family had settled in here. He enjoyed representing his alma mater.

“To me, there was no great big hurry,” he said.

Until Monday.

Torres said Bolowich gave no prior indication that he’d be accepting a position with a youth development academy in Florida. Bolowich said in a statement he left because it was the “right time” to end his 33-year college coaching career. Torres said the move wasn’t influenced by Monday’s news that CU had missed the NCAA tournament.

But it did make for a “pretty crazy” 24-hour stretch, Torres said.

And he will likely be stuck in a whirlwind state for a while.

Torres addressed the team for the first time Tuesday — what he described as an opportunity to deliver an important, tone-setting message for a group that fell short of an NCAA bid for the second straight season. That kind of postseason drought hadn’t happened here since 1991.

He’s also on the hunt for a new assistant coach. Michael Gabb, a former CU goalkeeper, will remain on staff, Torres said.

There’s recruiting. And scheduling. And fundraising.

But Torres is ready.

“I am very excited,” he said. “I’m up for the challenge. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for us at Creighton University.”

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