Brockton High School: Oh please… Ortiz?
I woke up Thursday morning and received an invitation to attend the ceremony dedicating the court at Brockton High in honor of longtime basketball coach Victor Ortiz.
Similar sentiments surfaced as newly billionaire Jay-Z once uttered on a song titled “Renegade”, featuring fellow iconic rapper Eminem, off Jay-Z’s classic “Blueprint” album. “I just read a magazine that messed up my day”.
Although my evolved emotional intelligence scoffs at the idea of subjecting myself to the same fate described in the song above. Still, I found the news disturbing and was left quite perplexed.
A proper and fair question that I submit to any and all parties involved in this decision is simply why?
When the story of Brockton High’s richly accomplished history of their beloved sports teams is told, basketball will be seldom mentioned.
Unequivocally, all respect must go to the 1985 state champion Boxers, who were like this era’s NBA Golden State Warriors as far as how dominate of a roster they had. Blue-chip athletes such as Odell Wilson, Curtis Jackson, and Curtis Bostic performed sensationally. Most notably during their playoff run when they had to defeat two future NBA players in Xaverian’s lethal guard Dana Barros and Cambridge’s showstopper Rumeal Robinson.
Certainly, the absence of attention in that particular sport is not due to a lack of athletes. Especially considering the bulk of the top athletes in the state of Massachusetts during Ortiz’s tenure as coach walked the corridors of Brockton High School. Furthermore, the vast majority of athletes in the school played multiple sports.
I speak with complete conviction and enthusiasm about that specifically, because I was a multi-sport athlete during my time at Brockton High School(1994-1998). I played football for the incomparable head football coach, Armond Columbo(may he rest in power and peace). He is perpetually Brockton sports royalty!! Additionally, I ran track for the brilliant coach Mr. Jennings. Lastly, I also played basketball for Ortiz.
I was fortunate to have embraced a psychotic work ethic and an unwavering vision, to become a member of both the track as well as football teams at Boston College. Without question, the great counsel I received from my high school coaches helped immensely.
Armond Columbo and Bill Jennings’ love for their respective sports oozed out of their skin and were visible in their eyes. Every kid under their watch was accounted for and was given an open door policy. Your thoughts, questions, and well-being mattered to them and it was palpable.
On the other hand, Ortiz flat out did more harm than good to the players he coached. Ortiz was a selfish, pompous person who was directly responsible for countless quality high school athletes either leaving Brockton High School or preferring not to target Brockton for their high school experience. I know first hand because I was one of them. Thank God for Coach Armond Columbo!
Contrary to Columbo and Jennings, Ortiz’s involvement in developing players with the intent of helping them advance to the next level was non-existent. Moreover adding insult to injury with respects to his players, Ortiz was a guidance counselor as his primary occupation.
I remember vividly the time when coach Columbo sent film on my behalf fully endorsing my play on the gridiron. As a result, the University of Indiana’s head football coach traveled to Brockton High School to watch me at one of my basketball practices. I distinctly recall a gaggle of my teammates saying during a break “Ortiz acting as if the coach is here to see him”. He kept approaching the coach displaying his unauthentic smile and attempting to engage him in dialogue. Fortunately, the Indiana coach was true to what they say about football coaches and gave Ortiz the verbal “stiff arm”.
“They say”, Ortiz is a member of the Brockton High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the Massachusetts High School Coaches Hall of Fame, and the New England Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. So what? The fact of the matter is, it’s solely about Richard Ortiz!
“They say”, Ortiz coached from 1983-2007. During that time he won 71 percent of his games. I have spoken to or know, well over 71 kids who wished they never played for Ortiz. Former players have shared Ortiz annihilated their self-esteem, poisoned their basketball aspirations, and used fear and intimidation as his primary tool. Sadly, Ortiz also directed that treatment towards his coaching staff too!
My freshmen basketball coach Mr. McKay (whom I attended his funeral) and my then JV coach Mr. Boen (current varsity coach) also was the recipient of Ortiz’s raft. Resulting in them essentially being silenced during games. An environment of mutual hesitation between player/coach was created, specifically pertaining to “in-game” adjustments that differed from Ortiz’s basketball philosophies. Both Mr. Boen and Mr. McKay’s coaching styles were well received by players. Additionally, their reputations were well respected. Not just during my time, but endless players who suited up both before and after I moved on.
If the reason for etching Ortiz’s name on the basketball floor pertains to the impact he had on the kids whom he coached, or includes his indelible imprint he left on the basketball program? Again I ask why?
When you mention Brockton and say “City of Champions”. It is not about the number of new titles you collect. It is about the number of kids’ characters you cultivated and strengthened. In return, they proudly speak your name and with honor represent your legacy.
In the end, this article is simply to serve as a document to counter all of the misinformation and misrepresentation of the Ortiz immortalized on that floor. As opposed to the distasteful man, countless of his former players and unspoken coaches have experienced.
How does Brockton High School dedicating the Court to Victor Ortiz make you feel? Leave a comment below.
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