A look into cheer coach Loney’s life
Stadium lights glow behind her as she flies up into the air and lands into the four pairs of arms of her teammates. This was an everyday scenario from the life of Tori Loney, a new P.E. teacher and varsity cheer coach at PRHS, and now she gets to teach younger girls how to reach the same level of success she has in her sports career.
Her husband, Dan Loney, the newly minted Offensive Line Coach and former Templeton HS head football coach, has joined her in her transfer to Paso Robles’ school district. And she herself has coached at schools throughout California in towns such as Atascadero, Templeton, Salinas, and Porterville over a span of 15 years.
Loney commenced her career in performing by beginning to dance when she was three years old and starting gymnastics at age nine. She cheered her way through the four years she attended Atascadero High, and after graduating Cal Poly in 2001, Loney taught P.E.
Atascadero HS is where Loney made her first cheer premier as a freshman. When Loney began cheerleading, it was hard to balance all her activities between school, cheer, and dance. After eleven years, Loney decided to clear up some time in her busy schedule.
“I decided to quit dance and focus on a new avenue, and I’m glad I did,” said Loney.
What Loney enjoyed most about cheering was being on a team larger than herself at a school both her parents had attended. As a cheerleader, she got to change the momentum of the game through the excitement of the crowd. She started as a base, worked her way up to becoming a flyer her junior year, and by her senior year, Loney was the co-captain of her cheer team.
In 1997, Loney graduated AHS and made the Universal Cheerleaders Association, or the UCA, All-Star team that competed in London for a week.
After graduating high school, Loney continued her career in cheering when she was accepted into Cal Poly and made the university’s team, supporting both men and women’s basketball teams a s well as the football team. Loney maintained her spot cheering on the sidelines for another four years.
However, Loney soon learned that college cheer was very different than high school. Poly’s team was Co-Ed,there were many changes in the rules, and stunting became more intense. In college, a flyer is lifted or thrown by one individual, while in high school, stunting is done with a four person group spotting the flyer.
Coach Loney developed an interest in Kinesiology, the study of body movements, while attending college after dislocating her shoulder while performing a basket toss as a Cal Poly cheerleader. At Poly, classes like exercise, physiology,and biomechanics drew a connection from science to sports and opened Loney’s eyes to how cheering was much more than just an activity or sport.
“It was no longer just in a book or in a video, but we were performing tests and studies about how the body’s performance could be enhanced,” said Loney.
After completing multiple internships, Loney realized that a career in kinesiology was not what her future held for her. However, she loved working with students, so she went back to Poly to get her teaching credential.
Post Cal Poly graduation, Loney returned to the Mustang Field for a year, but as a coach instead of a cheerer. This change is what initially sparked her love for coaching. Whether it was middle school or high school, assistant coach or head coach, Loney said she is most happy when coaching young students eager to yell, flip, and stunt to get crowds fired up at games.
After participating in various levels of cheer, Loney noted a definite difference between high school and college cheer, this time through the eyes of a coach.
“In college, students have very busy schedules, and finding all of your students at one practice, appearance, or game is very difficult. In high school, especially at Paso, we have a class [and] practices after school; finding time is a lot easier,” Loney said.
Each week, Loney devotes eleven hours to practices, at least six hours to football games, and three hours to designing and developing choreography for the cheer team. From preparing the girls for the addition of stunt competition cheerleading to adding new halftime routines, Loney works hard to make sure her cheerleaders can reach their full potential as performers, for which she is greatly appreciated.
“Loney is very organized and determined to get cheer more involved. We will be going to competitions in the fall and spring, and she taught us band dances and stunts. She wants us to succeed and we all appreciate her for that,” junior Maddie Moerman said, a cheerleader on varsity this year.
Her journey to PRHS, although based somewhat off her love for coaching, was also motivated by her desire to teach in the same district as her husband. Before coming to Paso, Loney worked at Flamson Middle School teaching physical education while simultaneously coaching the cheer team at Templeton. After Loney’s husband applied and got the job, she decided to pursue a similar path. When a Varsity cheer coach position opened up, Loney seized the opportunity.
The husband and wife duo have stuck together since 1994, during Loney’s sophomore year in high school. She recalled looking through the “Pigskin Preview,” a newspaper article listing all the football players, and picking out Dan amongst the other boys, pointing out to her family how cute he was.
“I later found out he was in my chemistry class. It was the most nerve-wracking feeling to know that he was sitting behind me everyday,” Loney said.
The two finally met through a mutual friend, and have been together ever since. The high school sweethearts have been married for 13 years after having dated for nine throughout high school and college.
The former Greyhounds are now wearing crimson and white, and love the Paso territory.
“I really enjoy the high level of school spirit and enthusiasm in our district. I think it’s rare in high schools today,” said Loney.
The Loneys are now another high-school-sweetheart-teacher-couple added on campus.
She confessed, “I first saw my husband the summer before my sophomore year in the pigskin preview. It was a newspaper article showing all of the varsity football players. I remember pointing out his picture to my grandmother and mother saying how cute he was.” She had never met him in person, “I later found out he was in my chemistry class at Atascadero high school. It was the most nerve-wracking feeling to know that he was sitting behind me everyday.” Neither knew of each other, just another kid in a class in 1994. “A mutual friend of ours found out I was interested in him and gave him my phone number. He then called later to get the answers for our chemistry homework. I don’t think I had the correct answers but I didn’t care.”
The lovebirds have been married for thirteen years after dating for nine throughout high school and college.
Coach Loney has wise words for student Bearcats:
“I know high school can be difficult, the struggle is real. However, these memories that you make during high school will live with you for the rest of your life. Get involved. If anything, engage with others in a positive way by joining an organization on campus. Whether it be athletics, leadership, band, drama or other clubs, find a niche where you fit. Those individuals that you come into contact with in those groups will be your lifelong friends. They will help you grow into the person that you are going to be. Enjoy high school it doesn’t last forever. And know that those of us working hard at Paso Robles high school want to see you succeed. Strive for your own excellence.”
Certainly she lives by her words.