More than the game

Clarke Central High School senior Chris Ortuno punts a soccer ball in Death Valley on Feb. 1. Chris has been playing soccer since he was younger, because he was inspired by his father. “In Mexico, (my father) used to play soccer in high school. Since I touched my first ball at 3 years old, he’s encouraged me to play soccer at a club level,” Ortuno said. Photo by Zoe Peterson.

By MADDIE INGLE – Staff Writer

Clarke Central High School senior chris Ortuno has been impacted by soccer, a sport he has grown a passion for.

For as long as Clarke Central High School JV and varsity goalie Chris Ortuno, a senior, can remember, he has loved anything and everything about sports.

Whether it be watching the Atlanta Falcons or playing soccer at Billy Henderson Stadium, Ortuno has been hooked on sports from the very beginning.

For Ortuno, soccer has been his passion and his outlet to cope with struggles he has faced in his life.

“(Soccer) helps me keep my mind off of people who doubt me and tell me that I’m not good enough,” Ortuno said.

Although he has had experiences with bullying, dealing with difficult situations has helped Ortuno grow stronger as a person and motivates him as an athlete.

“Back in fourth grade I used to get bullied all the time, but that didn’t stop me from becoming a better person. (Being bullied has taught me to) never judge others and to not think about people who bring me down,” Ortuno said. “My mother always told me, ‘You’re better than them. You’re better than the people that hate you the most.”’

Ortuno considers head boys varsity soccer coach Chris Aiken a prominent role model in his life.

“Ever since I was a freshman, (Aiken has) motivated us players to work hard and to make the playoffs,” Ortuno said.

Aiken believes Ortuno’s determination, passion and work ethic are what distinguish him from other players.

“My mother always told me, ‘You’re better than them. You’re better than the people that hate you the most.”

— Chris Ortuno,
senior and varsity boys soccer player

“Chris has shown his dedication because he’s not the type of player that only trains during the season. If you ever come out to any physical education class, you will always catch him playing soccer,” Aiken said. “Last year, before school he’d play soccer in the gym, so just being able to work on his game outside of the actual practice schedule really shows his commitment to getting better and wanting to improve.”

According to Aiken, Ortuno’s attitude and dedication has been a great contributor to the team.

“I think his positive attitude is the biggest thing (Chris contributes to the team). He’s very uplifting, very encouraging. He’s never negative. He’s never said anything negative the four years I’ve known him,” Aiken said. “He also plays a position that we really need, so having a quality goalie, such as Chris, is important to the success of our team.”

Ortuno is not only prideful and dedicated to his team, he is also prideful in his school and feels CCHS has taught him many valuable lessons throughout his four years as a Gladiator.

“When I walk through the doors (of CCHS), I feel honored. I feel strong,” Ortuno said. “(Being a Gladiator has taught me that) sometimes, you have to learn to lose. You just have to know how to lose properly.”

Looking past his time at CCHS and towards the future, Ortuno has ambitious goals that he is deter-
mined to accomplish.

“I want to go to college and pursue being a surgeon (after I graduate). I’m a bit scared but I feel like I’m ready. Experiencing my grandmother suffer with Multiple Sclerosis has made me want to save lives,” Ortuno said.

When asked what his personal lifelong goal is, Ortuno could not help but smile when he answered.

“I just want to inspire others. I just have to follow my dreams and become what I want to be,” Ortuno said. “I just want to prove everyone wrong.”

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