"We will fight every game" - Mark Ortega

Mark Ortega (white jersey) squeezed in the middle

Mark Ortega (white jersey) squeezed in the middle

There are few people in USA that have shown more dedication to the sport than Mark Ortega, who is currently working with the USA senior national team as the assistant coach to Robert Hedin.

Mark has played and coached handball for 16 years at a international level, and aside from his duties with the US National Team, he is the coach of Los Angeles Team Handball Club.

He will lead the LATHC in the quest to become the first US club to qualify to the 2019 Super Globe in Saudi Arabia.

We caught up with Mark, while he is in Dominican Republic with Team USA competing at the Emerging Nations tournament, and talked briefly about the Super Globe qualifier.

How did you fall in love with the game of handball? Please share some of your most memorable moments that kept you in the game?

Mark Ortega: It all began with the idea of making it to the Olympics. I always wanted to be an Olympian. The grind, the challenges, hard work, representing your country it’s what kept me motivated for many years.

Now I have grown to love the game for the different tactical situations and challenges it provides. The game of handball is constantly developing/changing and it’s great to be part of teams that work, and fight together to try in achieving their goals.

Tell us about your handball career? (when did you start playing, who did you play for, best memories and achievements)

Mark Ortega: I started playing when I was 24. Now I am 40. My biggest moments are representing the USA at any level and being selected as a captain for the National team.

There is a vibrant and positive energy that hasn’t been seen in a long time within the USA handball community. Can you talk a bit about how LATHC is pushing the promotion of handball on the West Coast? Especially, considering that the Olympic games are returning back to LA in 2028.  

Mark Ortega: We are proud to have the Olympics in LA. We are also excited to have a successful beach program as well as our continued work with the indoor handball

First ever to qualify to the Super Globe from NorCa region. What do you think about it? What are your chances to qualify to the Super Globe?

Mark Ortega: Our expectation are to come and fight every game. We have not seen much of the teams from PR or Canada. It will be great for a USA team to represent at the Super Globe.  

By qualifying to the Super Globe 2019 you would become a part of a group to represent a US club for the first time in a large global event like this. How does this notion keep you motivated? What are your expectations for the Super Globe?

Mark Ortega: I generally don’t like to talk about expectation before a tournament, when we still have work to get there. The thought of it is exciting for all of the players that are participating in this inaugural tournament.

We are excited to be a part of this event and play in such a historic site for a competition of this magnitude.