Courtesy: Robby Edwards, Athletic Media Relations
Samantha Cortez is in her first season as an assistant coach with the Razorbacks, but she is certainly no stranger to the program.
The native of Verona, N.J., competed for the Razorbacks for four years and spent the three previous seasons on the staff as the director of operations.
A four-year letterwinner from 2005-08, as an assistant coach, she will be involved in recruiting, coaching and choreographing routines for the Razorbacks.
After earning her bachelor's degree in psychology in 2008, she worked the three following years as Arkansas' 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.
As a student-athlete, she 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, which ties for seventh, and 9.925 on floor, which ties for ninth.
A three-time Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll selection, she was named to the National Association for Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women all-scholar team in 2008.
Following her senior season, a team award, the Samantha Cortez Leadership Award, was created in her honor. Cortez won the first award. Other winners include Amy DeFilippo, Casey Jo Magee and Sarah Nagashima.
In 2005, her freshman team recorded wins over No. 10 Kentucky and No. 12 Auburn, and finished fourth in the NCAA East Regional.
In 2006, Arkansas upset No. 9 UCLA to finish second in the NCAA South Central Regional and send the Razorbacks to the NCAA Championship for the first time.
As a junior in 2007, she helped Arkansas record 17 wins with victories over No. 14 Penn State and No. 15 Auburn, and a third-place finish in the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Her senior year, Arkansas beat No. 6 Alabama, No. 9 UCLA, No. 12 Penn State, No. 15 Michigan State and No. 20 Kentucky. In the NCAA Northeast Regional, the Razorbacks beat No. 14 Arizona to finish second and advance to the NCAA Championship for the second time. At the NCAA meet, Arkansas beat No. 8 Oregon State to finish fifth in the Session II Semifinal.
Cortez helped the Razorbacks finish with final national rankings of No. 15 in 2005, No. 12 in 2006, No. 13 in 2007 and No. 10 in 2008 for the first top 10 finish in program history.
As director of operations, she was part of a staff which led Arkansas to the Super Six for the first time in 2009. Arkansas finished fifth in the nation after winning the NCAA South Central Regional.
In 2010, the Razorbacks finished second in the NCAA West Regional and 11th in the nation.
Arkansas finished tied for ninth in the nation in 2011 after winning the NCAA North Central Regional. Arkansas tied for fourth in the NCAA Session I Semifinal, missing the Super Six by one spot for the second-best finish in program history. Along the way, Arkansas beat No. 1 Florida twice, beat No. 4 Georgia for the first time when the Gym'Dogs were ranked No. 4, tied for the SEC regular-season championship and recorded 11 wins over teams ranked in the top 25.
The Razorbacks have been in an NCAA Regional eight straight seasons and advanced to the NCAA Championship five times. Cortez has been with the Razorbacks for all five trips to the NCAA Championship and for seven of the eight appearances in an NCAA Regional.