Ortiz Lands ‘dream Job’ As Fitchburg High Basketball Coach
By Chad Garner
Special to the Sentinel & Enterprise
FITCHBURG -- Danny Ortiz is thrilled to be home.
The 2000 Fitchburg High School graduate will be wearing a lot more red and gray after the FHS athletic department announced Ortiz as the school’s new boys’ varsity basketball coach on Tuesday afternoon.
“To have the opportunity to lead these young men, I’m super excited to give back,” Ortiz said. “It’s not going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m excited for the challenge. My staff is excited, as well.
“I’m really happy. I always wanted this opportunity. One thing is for sure, there will be no shortcuts. We’re committed 100 percent into trying to do what is best for these kids.”
Ortiz replaces Jack Scott, who stepped down during the offseason.
Fitchburg High Athletic Director Ray Cosenza praised Ortiz’s passion to coach and his success on the court.
“We’re thrilled to have someone with Dan’s experience and character take over the boys’ basketball program,” Cosenza said.
Ortiz called coaching at his alma mater his “dream job.”
“It’s that special feeling you gain as a kid growing up in the city,” said the 37-year-old Ortiz. “To be able to have the opportunity to give back to these kids that kind of grew up the same way you did, that’s the reason why. All the red and gray never leaves you. This is exciting. There’s no other way to describe it.”
Ortiz created a winning culture at Nashoba Regional after taking over the helm in 2012. In his six years at Nashoba, Ortiz took his team to the postseason five times, including winning a Central Mass. Division 2 championship in 2017. The Chieftains lost to Brighton in the state final that year.
In 2016, Ortiz led Nashoba to its first Clark Tournament championship since 1977.
Last winter, Nashoba went 9-10 and failed to qualify for district play for the first time under Ortiz.
Ortiz made it a point to recognize and thank Nashoba AD Tania Rich, and called leaving Nashoba “a difficult decision.”
“It certainly wasn’t easy,” Ortiz said. “Tania Rich is an amazing individual and an amazing person. She was extremely helpful to me not just in basketball, but in life itself. I built great relationships in the community and with players. It was a place where I learned a lot. I’m extremely thankful. It will always hold a special place in my heart.”
As a student at FHS, Ortiz was a three-sport athlete in basketball, track and football.
Ortiz hopes to bring that championship level of play and attitude to the Red Raiders.
“You play for pride and hope to give it your all as competitors,” Ortiz said. “You try to compete at the highest level possible with a lot of teamwork, hard work and dedication.”
That family type of atmosphere is a key ingredient to success.
“The most important (thing) is we have to become a family,” Ortiz said. “That was a big thing with the teams I had over there. They all believed in one another, they know what it took to try to compete at the highest level possible and take no shortcuts and put your best foot forward. That will be the message, that if you want to get to a special spot, there’s hard work that needs to be done and to be committed. I had teams that were fully committed and invested.”
As a coach, Ortiz is passionate, a hard worker and knows how to motivate to get the most out of his players.
“I’m going to be extremely firm, but fair,” Ortiz said. “I’m looking to get the most out of the kids, but also respectful at the same time. I’m looking for guys who are going to be tough-minded and take pride about wearing Fitchburg across their chest, and they are looking to excel on the basketball court and life itself and be excited about what they can contribute to the city. They are going to get a coach who is passionate, extremely hard-working, who’s dedicated 100 percent and is invested with them on the court and outside of the court, as well.”
Home sweet home for Ortiz.