Former Cardinal Gibbons High School athlete April Ortenzo committed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2010, and five years later, she’s an All-America standout.
The second lieutenant represented the Army as a member of the U.S. All-Armed Forces softball team. The talented shortstop helped lead her squad to the Amateur Softball Association national championship in Oklahoma City.
Ortenzo, who earned all-county and all-state recognition at the Fort Lauderdale high school, was named Tournament Batting Champion and Most Valuable Player after hitting .800 in the three-game sweep. She had three triples and four doubles, 10 RBI and scored nine runs. She was also selected to the ASA All-America team.
“The experience was great,” said Ortenzo, who lived in Parkland before going to West Point. “I got to be with some very special people who had high-caliber skills and high-caliber motivation. I couldn’t ask for a bigger honor or a more humbling experience.”
As a senior at Cardinal Gibbons, she was selected as the Female High School Athlete of the Year for all U.S. Catholic schools.
“Softball will always be a part of my life, but obviously my Army career and my fellow soldiers are my top priority,” she said. “We were one of the younger and smaller teams out there in the tournament, but we were very fast, and our defense was unbelievable. It was a great opportunity to represent the Army. It was an honor to represent all our service members.”
Before the tournament, Ortenzo and her All-Army team won all nine games en route to capturing the gold medal in the Armed Forces Softball Championships at Camp Lejeune, N.C. One week later, many of those opposing players became her teammates on the All-Armed Forces squad.
Sallarulo’s 5K race wins big for Special Olympians
The community recently came out in force to support the 10th anniversary of the Sallarulo’s Race for Champions to benefit Special Olympics Broward County.
More than 1,100 runners and walkers took part in the event, which raised about $230,000 and was staged at Nova Southeastern University. Proceeds will benefit Special Olympics’ athletic training and sporting competitions for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jean Charles, of Hollywood, was the top male finisher, completing the 5K in just over 20 minutes. Shannon Booker took runner-up, while Miguel Rodriguez took third place. Tiffeny Martinez, from Puerto Rico, took the women’s crown. She was followed by Susan Gritz and Sarah Woelfer.
NSU President George L. Hanbury II is proud of his school’s partnership with Special Olympics Broward County.
“Special Olympics is headquartered on our campus and, as such, we’re proud sponsors of the Sallarulo’s 5K Race for Champions,” Hanbury said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to be aware of the needs of Special Olympians and the individuals who participate in this.”
Dads and children are special guests at Dolphins event
NFL Hall of Famer and former Miami Dolphins player Larry Little served as host for the All Pro Dad Father Kids Experience at the Dolphins’ practice facility in Davie.
The event provided an opportunity for more than 1,000 dads and their children to forge stronger relationships through games and hands-on experiences.
Little, an All-Pro and a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Dolphins, has four children and 10 grandchildren.
“Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad who is involved in their children’s lives,” said Little, 70. “I’ve made my share of mistakes as a father, but it’s important to always be there for your child, no matter what. A lot of fathers are living their lives through the children and push them to excel in athletics. Let the children decide what they want to do, and always be there to support them.”
The program challenges all fathers to commit to one minute a day, one hour a month and one day of the year in order to be an All Pro Dad.
George Woods is All Pro Dad’s director of marketing.
“Every child should know the love of a mother and father, and both parents should be engaged in their child’s life,” Woods said. “We’re here to have a lot of fun, create some memories, and at the end of the day, we’re helping fathers to be All Pro Dads.”