Nieko Torres chose the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences because he wanted to work with athletes. He researched the CPASS coaching and performance science program through the suggestion of an advisor. “It quickly became clear that CPASS had plenty of options for me to explore which avenue of athletics I wanted to pursue. I am extremely grateful for it,” Torres said.
Assistant Professor Guy Hornsby says that it was evident early on that Torres was serious about pursuing a career in strength and conditioning. “Nieko was interning at Morgantown High School, lifting/spending time with the WVU weightlifting club while being an exemplary student. I am grateful he was mentored by such a great staff at Mississippi State, the same staff that has mentored other students of ours, Billy Cedar, Matt Anti and Lauren White,” Hornsby said.
The coaching and performance science graduate (2017 bachelor’s degree), says his degree, coupled with a minor in strength and conditioning, helped support his career goals. “WVU CPASS allowed me to specialize in coaching. The CPASS program is unique because students learn about human biology, kinesiology and kinematics while discovering how individuals learn information and the best way to relay that information,” he said. “The program provides insight on how to interact with all athletes, regardless of age, race and gender, in an effective manner.”
The Riverdale, NJ native says that Hornsby was a significant reason why he chose the strength and conditioning field. “I found his classes extremely interesting and could see myself pursuing the athletic performance specialty. The more time I spent with Dr. Hornsby, the more I understood why he enjoyed sports performance and the development of all athletes – youth, adolescence and the professional level,” Torres said. “Looking back, I didn’t truly comprehend what he was trying to teach me via weightlifting videos, programs and hours at the weightlifting facility. Now it all makes sense.”
Hornsby encouraged Torres to work with Chris Eloi, graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Morgantown High School. “Chris and I stay in touch. If it wasn’t for him, Dr. Hornsby and others at CPASS, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Dr. Hornsby is someone I know I can call out of the blue and talk shop or gain his insight on a topic,” Torres said.
As director of sports performance with Olympic sports at Florida A&M University, Torres oversees and works daily with every Olympic sport team, coach, athlete and administrator to develop the best possible strength, speed, conditioning, recovery and injury mitigation programs. “A typical day begins before the sun comes up with my interns training athletes, attending practice and helping with recovery techniques,” he said. “As a group, we focus on developing the most well-rounded individuals on and off the playing field and classroom.”
“It’s exciting to see Nieko arrive in a full-time role at Florida A&M. I always enjoy when he reaches out with his occasional questions regarding training, athlete monitoring and general coaching advice," Hornsby said.
Torres explains that what CPASS students learn in the program can create the foundation to become successful. “My advice for current undergraduate students is to become as well versed as possible in the classes that CPASS provides. The things you will learn in youth development, athletic training, sport science, nutrition and coaching classes will equip you with the best possible framework to provide for your athletes and loved ones,” he added.