By Ryan Lefever
In the city of angels, there’s one thing that’s making a difference in a special way.
Cristian Ortiz, 39, is the head coach for the LAFC Special Olympics team and the L.A. Galaxy Unified soccer team. He has coached with Special Olympics for six years, and he also is an adaptive physical education teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Cristian was asked by a fellow colleague if he was interested in volunteering for Special Olympics as a coach and he agreed. Cristian said the experience has impacted him in a positive way.
“I look forward to each team every year and the relationships we build with each other and watching athletes grow,” he said.
One of those instances involved athlete David Huerta, who was once scared of the ball and shy before transforming into someone who scores game-winning goals for the team. Christian has been so impactful with the athletes by teaching them “The L.A. Way.”
Because both teams Cristian coaches represent L.A., he wants both to have the same mentality. The L.A. Way is all about having fun, not playing dirty and playing the right way. The goal does not factor in wins or losses.
“If we lose, I’ll still be proud of them if they still play the L.A. Way,” Cristian said.
When he is coaching the L.A. Galaxy Unified team (athletes with and without intellectual disabilities), he wants everyone to work together to the point where you cannot tell them apart.
This is just one of the many stories of how volunteering for Special Olympics can impact the volunteer just as much as the athletes. Learn more about how to become a coach and make an impact.