Adam Hallenback – 1851 Staff
From the moment she could walk, junior Amanda Ortiz knew that basketball and she could change the world. It was only a matter of time until she figured out how she would do it.
“Ever since I was little, my mom would tell me that I always had a ball in my hand,” Ortiz said.
Now a member of the Lasell College women’s basketball team, she is changing the game for the Lasers. Ortiz currently leads the team in points (17.4 ppg), rebounds (5.3 rpg), steals (3.9 spg), and blocks (0.6 bpg). In week eight of the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) women’s basketball schedule, she was honored with the GNAC Player of the Week. She became a Laser hoping to make a difference where she started it five years ago.
Ortiz was born in Brooklyn, New York before moving to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she lived for nine years. It was there when basketball became a real part of her life socially and academically. “When I was in Pennsylvania [that] was when [my love for the game] really started picking up. I stuck with basketball because I didn’t really like soccer, mom said I was good, but I didn’t like it.” Ortiz, now residing in Newton for seven years, has matured and grown as a product of the town, both on and off the court.
She graduated high school from Newton North in 2015 as a two-sport athlete, running track & field and playing basketball. During her junior and senior years of basketball, she led her team to the state semifinals and was named Bay State Conference All-Star. After her high school career, she hosted a special event at Newton North called “Hoops for Puerto Rico,” a basketball clinic created to raise money and awareness for the victims of Hurricane Maria.
“My mom started sending packages every week with money and supplies that they needed…and on my part I felt so helpless,” Ortiz said. “[My mom] first gave me the idea, and I just kind of went with it.”
Following her high school days, Ortiz was courted by several schools, but in the end chose to attend University of Massachusetts Lowell. Although she was given a great opportunity with membership of the team, she felt that she wasn’t reaching her potential.
In two seasons at UMass Lowell, Ortiz averaged 3.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game while shooting 43.3% (13-30) from the field. She scored a season high of 16 against Stony Brook University. As time went on, Ortiz decided it was time
to make a change. Her sophomore season would be her last as a Falcon.
“I left because of the coaching there, I felt that it wasn’t the right fit for me with the coaches. I was so used to being coached by guys and having that discipline, and there were times that I would have a great game, score 10 points, grab a couple of steals, coming off the bench, but then [I] would sit a three games and not be told what I
did wrong, why I was being sat for a whole game…it just wasn’t a great fit for me.”
Since becoming a Laser, Ortiz reflects on the differences between the two experiences as if it were night and day. “I was used to being involved with girls that were 6’3, I was the one of the shortest girls on the team,” she said. “I’ve played with girls from Maryland who were huge, and I still have pictures to this day where I’m like ‘wow, how do
you get that big?” Coming to Lasell eased the pressure for Ortiz, as the women’s team lineup was in store for a large shake up after the closing of Mount Ida College.
Sophomore teammate Nicole Yeager said, “I think with the merging of us and a bunch of Mount Ida players, that was the biggest issue, bonding at the beginning of the season, so I think she added a certain twist to it and now we have much more creative plays, and practices, she brings the energy a little bit.”
Ortiz has found her niche at Lasell, finding time to pick up social activities and work. After this season, she will have two more years of eligibility, and hopes to use each second of them to her full potential.
When asked where she wants to be when it’s all over, she answered, “I’m definitely going to keep playing. My head sometimes takes me in other directions, but ultimately, I think I want to play. I’d love to play for the Puerto Rico national team [when I graduate], I know two girls that play there, and I want to travel and play in Australia, I know some agents down there…someday.”