Samantha Cortez, a Verona native who is a former University of Arkansas gymnast and member of the staff the last three years as director of operations, has been named assistant coach for the Razorbacks, co-head coaches Mark and René Cook announced on Friday.
Cortez, a graduate of Mount Saint Dominic Academy, lettered from at UA from 2005 to 2008. After earning her degree in psychology, she spent the last three years as UA’s director of operations. In that role, she handled day-to-day office management, coordination of meet officials and meet management, scheduled pre- and post-meet entertainment, coordinated team entries and assisted with scoring, and assisted with team building activities.
She also coordinated team meals, team ticket requests, assisted with on-campus recruiting, created choreography for private club gymnasts, administered summer camp registration, and coordinated the organization of counselors and participants.
“Sam has been a big part of the development of our program, as both a successful student-athlete and as a part of our staff,” Mark Cook says. “In this role, she’ll be more involved in the gym, working with the girls, and in recruiting. She’s a Razorback, she knows what we are looking for and what it takes to be successful, and will help us continue to build the program. Sam is going to add to the consistency of our staff with the ultimate goal of winning a national championship. She is awesome!”
In her new role, she will be involved in recruiting, coaching and choreographing routines for the Razorbacks.
Cortez, pictured below in competition in 2008, helped Arkansas earn four bids to an NCAA Regional with the program’s first two NCAA Championship appearances in 2006 and 2008. She still holds spots in Arkansas’ all-time top 10 with scores of 9.925 on vault and 9.925 on floor.
“We are excited to have Samantha join our staff in a coaching capacity,” René Cook says. “Her gymnastics knowledge, her competitive experience, and her ability to motivate and connect with the student-athletes will be an asset to our continued success. In addition, her passion for the sport and this program will continue to build upon the contributions she has already provided to the program. We are excited to get the 2011-12 school year started!”
A three-time Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll selection, Cortez was named to the National Association for Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women all-scholar team in 2008. This past season, Cortez was a part of the staff which led Arkansas to a tie for ninth in the nation. The Razorbacks were in an NCAA Regional for the eighth straight season, every year the program has existed since the first, and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the fifth time in six years.