Matt Ortega has the best seat in the house when he watches his son, Ricky, play quarterback for Coatesville.
He’s on the sideline, calling the shots for the Red Raiders as the head football coach.
In the offseason, when Ricky transitions from football to track, the elder Ortega trades in his spot on the sideline for a seat in the stands.
“I enjoy it sometimes, taking a break and being a parent, not being a coach,” Matt Ortega said.
He’ll be with the rest of the parents Friday, cheering Ricky on as a dad, as the junior will compete in the javelin at the Penn Relays at Franklin Field.
Ricky Ortega has thrown the javelin for Coatesville since his freshman year, and he competed in the Penn Relays last year, when he finished eighth with a throw of 183 feet, 10 inches. Ortega placed seventh at the PIAA state track and field championships as a sophomore.
Ortega comes from a family with a track background. Matt Ortega threw the javelin for St. Francis University, where he met his wife, Corrie, who was a runner for the team.
Of course, Ricky Ortega knew about throwing the javelin from his father, but he didn’t take it seriously until Coatesville’s running backs coach and head track coach, Damien Henry, persuaded the quarterback to trade in the football for the javelin when the spring rolled around.
“The start of my freshman year, he told me to come out and try out for track and try out the javelin,” Ortega said. “I didn’t really know how good I was at it until my coach told me, so I took it seriously my freshman year until now. That’s how it started.”
When the football season ends in early December, Ortega said he doesn’t throw a football or a javelin until March. This year, instead of playing basketball, Ortega ran indoor track for Coatesville, which has plenty of benefits for both football and the javelin.
Unlike throwing a football, throwing a javelin relies much more on speed and building momentum. So when football season is over, Ortega spends more time training his legs.
“I go with the sprinters and I get a workout in, and then I’m warmed up to go over with the javelin and use my runner’s steps. Mostly, I work on my lower body,” Ortega said.
Ortega’s main sport is football, and he has racked up college offers from Villanova, William and Mary, Army, Air Force, and 13 other schools. But competing in indoor track and throwing the javelin helps him for football, physically and mentally.
“It helps me get a little stronger, and it puts my mind on something else,” Ortega said.
Ortega said that some of the schools that have recruited him for football are impressed that he throws the javelin at a high level, and part of the recruitment process will be to attend some of Ortega’s meets in the next few weeks.
“It shows that they want me,” he said. “To come all that way to see me throw when it’s not my main sport, it’s big.”
For Ortega, throwing the javelin prepares him to play football. But there is not nearly as much pressure for the multi-sport star.