Amanda Torres is used to being the only player in her class. She arrived at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in August 2017. The 5-foot-7 point guard out of Proctor Academy was the lone first-year athlete for the UNH women’s basketball team. Four years later and Torres now helms the Wildcats as the sole senior.
Torres began her journey as the third point guard on UNH’s depth chart. She had to fight for any minutes she could get during her first year. Torres averaged 2.6 points playing in 28 games but only starting nine that season. Head coach Kelsey Hogan noted that she saw Torres putting in the work but that the young guard struggled to get minutes. Hogan said things improved her sophomore year, but it wasn’t until last season that Torres found her true self on the court.
“Last year she flipped that switch and took on a huge role for us, especially being a lockdown defender,” Hogan said.
The breakout year was one that both Torres and the UNH women’s basketball program needed if they were going to have success in the 2020-21 season. At the end of Torres’s junior year, long time head coach Maureen Magarity departed Durham to take the reins at Holy Cross. Simultaneously, the team lost Ashley Storey, who had led the Wildcats in points per game for the past two seasons. Torres was then the lone senior on a team with a new head coach, and a roster of mostly first-year athletes and sophomores.
Assistant coach and former UNH player Kelsey Hogan replaced Magarity and became the youngest head coach in college basketball. It seemed like fate that Hogan and Torres found themselves as the leaders of the Wildcats. While Hogan was a player, she met Torres, then a middle schooler, while assisting her AAU team.
“I was helping out the team and she was this little spitfire of a guard back in the day,” explained Hogan.
Years later, it was Hogan who gave Torres her tour of the UNH campus. Hogan said she knew right then that Torres would have a great career at UNH. Hogan was there for Torres when she was new to the team, and now Hogan says Torres is there for her in her first year as head coach.
“I’ll tell you that for me and going into my first year and having the relationship that I do with Amanda it’s been kind of almost an easy transition, she’s helped me in a lot of ways too just because I trust her tremendously on the court,” Hogan explained. “She’s that extra extension of the coaching staff on the court and so, I trust her so much on the court but also just trusting her off the court of not only doing the right thing but leading the way. So, it’s been an easy transition. I’m so grateful and lucky to have a point guard and senior like her especially for my first year it’s been a great one and I’m very grateful for her.”
Leadership is not something that comes naturally to Torres, and she’ll be the first one to tell you. But when thrust into the role, she didn’t back down.
“I definitely am very soft-spoken I don’t really talk a lot,” said Torres. “So that has definitely been the biggest change for me being a captain this year is not just leading by example but actually talking and using my voice in practice and in games.”
Coach Hogan said that it takes time to get Torres out of her shell, and it isn’t always easy for her to be the team’s vocal leader. She always led by example, but as a captain and lone senior, Torres was left with no choice but to lead in every way. Coach Hogan is proud of how far Torres has come.
“She’s kind of now breaking down those walls and barriers for herself and growing into that leader who’s actually using her voice. Never mind showing those underclassmen, the freshmen, what the right way is but also tell them, tell them and instructing them more.”
Torres’s longtime teammate, junior forward Ivy Gogolin, said she saw unbelievable growth from her captain.
“Now she’s adding that vocal leadership to her skill set so that’s been awesome to see, we definitely need that,” said Gogolin.
First-year center Paige Cote wasn’t there to see Torres’s journey and transformation into a leader. However, she has been one of the beneficiaries of it. Cote said she is incredibly thankful for the on-court command that Torres brings.
“She’s definitely there to take control and rein us in and get us into our offense or whatever defense we need to be in,” Cote explained. “So, I think that’s kind of the most important role that she takes on the court is just being our leader and we can look to her to kind of figure out what we’re going to be doing.”
Torres has been integral to UNH’s season this year. She leads the team in minutes (663), points (216), points per game (12), Assists (49) and Steals (42). She was also named the America East Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 7.
Her teammates and coach had no shortage of praise for the point guard. UNH currently sits at 5-10 in conference play – 5-13 overall – and sixth in the America East standings. Despite their record, the Wildcats have exceeded most expectations. They are one of only two teams in the conference to have a win against Maine (15-2, 12-2)
Torres embodies so much of the culture that Coach Hogan is building, and she lifts up so many of her teammates. It has been an incredible senior year for the point guard on the court. Still, in many ways, Torres didn’t get a true senior season. The COVID-19 pandemic robbed her of fans in the bleachers and a somewhat normal schedule. Torres still has one more year of eligibility, and the question of whether or not she’ll use it has been making the rounds.
Her coach didn’t dance around the topic. Kelsey Hogan wants Amanda Torres to be a Wildcat next season.
“Having that veteran, it’s huge and Amanda has put in time put in the work to, never mind want another opportunity to come back but is definitely showing to us every single day why she’s deserving to have another year so it would be great. It’d be phenomenal that’s for sure to have her back,” said Hogan.
Torres’s teammates were equally enthused with the prospect of having her as a leader for one more season. Gogolin has had three years with Torres and wants to make it four.
“Amanda brings so much to this team on the court, and especially off the court she’s an amazing friend and such a kind person. So, having her around again, I think everybody would absolutely love that,” Gogolin noted.
As much as her coach and team want her back, it’s not up to them. Torres has heard the speculation and said she repeatedly talked with Hogan about the idea of a fifth year. Torres reciprocated the affections of her team when discussing a fifth and final season.
“I love all these girls like so much,” She said. “I feel like when I look back at it, it’s crazy that we have a few more games and then playoffs, if playoffs are even a thing. It’s just kind of crazy that it’s like already over with so I guess I’m definitely not ready [for it to be over].”
The great news for Hogan and UNH women’s basketball is that it’s not over; Amanda Torres will be returning for the 2021-22 season.
“It was definitely a mutual decision, [Hogan] wanted it just as much as I want to. So, I think the plan is going to be for me to come back next year, which I’m really excited about,” Torres explained. “I’m really excited that Kelsey has given me the opportunity to have another year and hopefully it will be more of a normal-ish season. But either way, I’m just super excited to have another year.”
Photo courtesy of UNH Athletics