Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Jessica Ortiz – A fire ignites a fire

Michael Herrera/El Paisano
Jessie Ortiz kicks a ball up-field, out of San Gabriel Valley’s grasp.





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It was a hot October day and the Rio Hondo women’s soccer team was in the middle of a battle for first place against Chaffey College. This was a grudge match, Chaffey had previously defeated RHC 6-0 and the Roadrunners were not about to let that happen again. Before the game, coach, Jennifer Tanaka spoke to the girls about everyone putting in their effort and doing their work because in the end whoever plays with the biggest heart comes out with the win. This really spoke out to Jessica Ortiz, who came up big in the game with the only goal of the match, leading RHC to a victory over Chaffey (1-0).I got a chance to sit down with Ortiz and talk, basically, about how soccer has shaped her life.

Jessica “Ozzie” Ortiz was surrounded by soccer since she was born because her parents were fanatics of the sport. Seeing their admiration for the game she naturally picked up the ball and began to love it as well. At the young age of four, she joined an all boys team at Roosevelt Park in South Central, Los Angeles, where she says, “I will never forget where I came from. Every day of my soccer life has shaped me to how I play today.”

What first started as a way to get her parents attention, turned into pure love for the sport. She began playing because it was fun and because she loved it. That field was the place where she did everything right, where she could forget all her troubles, and most of all, where she could shine.

Ortiz’s style of play is something that you could call a “crowd pleaser”, very flashy and fancy. Throwing in as many moves as possible and what makes it even more fun to watch is that they work for her. She can make any defender look silly if they’re not prepared for her bag of tricks. I asked Ortiz who her favorite player is and she responded with Lionel Messi, forward for Barcelona FC. Messi has quite the “crowd pleaser” playing style. When I asked her why she chose him, she responded with a reason I would not have guessed.

“It’s not just his fancy moves that I like, it’s more like, good players stand out but great players bring the team up with them and players like Christiano Ronaldo, Ronaldhino—they stand out for a little bit, but Messi brings his whole team up. It’s not just about him scoring goals and being the poster child, it’s about him and his team succeeding.”

Of course Ortiz probably would not be the player she is today was it not for Rio Hondo women’s coach Jennifer Tanaka. Tanaka coached Ortiz for about 5 years, and although that may not seem like many years, it is.

Tanaka’s methods have always been that if you’re willing to learn, she’s willing to coach and Ortiz has that natural flare that was fun to mend into a strong skillful player.                         Tanaka woke Ortiz up from the little dream that she can just get to the top by luck, when in actuality it’s the work that you put in that gets you places. The one thing Tanaka has always told her is, “No matter how good you are, how amazing of a player you are, there is always room to get better.”

Constant work at perfection is what sets professional athlete’s apart from the wanna-be’s. Although Ortiz is constantly being praised for her good work, she always keeps in the front of her mind what she can do to be better. Ortiz then told me her quote that she lives by for soccer.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure …and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”(Marriam Williamson).

Her reasoning behind this is that when she starts performing well on the field and playing with intensity, it then makes the rest of the team want to be at that same level thus making the whole team shine. A fire ignites a fire, ignites a fire.

Her skillfulness and want for her team to succeed has brought her team up and made her another player that the team can lean on. Ortiz thanks RHC assistant coach Gill Sandoval, for reminding her to stay humble, also, RHC assistant coach Amanda Krukow, for teaching her strength. Lastly, coach Tanaka for believing in her when she didn’t believe in herself.

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