SAINAS, Calif. - Hartnell Soccer coach honored with a national award last Friday. Hartnell's Daniel Ortega was one of two men to receive a national coaching award for junior colleges Division III in the nation, but even though he's coaching the team to championships, he's most proud of the impact he's making on their lives.
Daniel Ortega's whole life was soccer, and he was certain he would become a professional soccer player after receiving a full scholarship to play at San Jose State.
"I got hurt my senior year at San Jose State, and I tore my ACL," said Ortega.
At that moment he knew there was more to life than just athletics. He had to learn it the hard way, and that's what he preaches to his students at Hartnell.
"I always talk to my players about the airplane analogy. What's more important the airplane or the wings. They always give me different answers and guesses, but the truth is you need both to fly a plane," said Ortega.
Most of his players that come onto the team have the same mentality he had as a student, and education is not the priority.
"Education was not a first priority for me," said Uriel Garcia, who was recruited to play at the University of San Francisco right after high school.
Unfortunately, he did not get the playing time he had hoped to see. A hard hit to his ego caused him to drop out of school for two years before deciding to return to Hartnell with encouragement from Ortega.
Most of the students can attest that Ortega's shining example to push them forward educationally is not always welcomed but appreciated. One example is Albert Garcia, a player who was suspended for dropping a music class.
"I was too into soccer so I lacked in school; my focus was only soccer. The coaches were rough on me, I'm not going to lie," said Garcia.
Now, Albert thinks twice about focusing on his education after he was forced to sit the bench for several games.
"I realize there's more opportunity for me in college. It's not just about soccer for me anymore," said Garcia.
Ortega's players are thankful that their coach goes the extra mile to kick them forward, but Daniel will tell you a little tough love goes a long way.
"Sometimes it's tough love but you have to do it. If you do well in school it opens so many more doors," said Ortega.