BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s varsity volleyball team and the entire community last week celebrated the life of its late and beloved coach, Bertha Ortiz, who passed away this summer after a lengthy illness, and then went on a roll with big wins over Bayside Conference opponents.
Last Thursday, Decatur honored Ortiz with a special ceremony before the home opener against Worcester County rival Pocomoke. It was standing room only in the gym at Decatur where hundreds gathered to pay their respects and recall the remarkable accomplishments of the late coach, both on the court and perhaps more importantly, in her role as a mentor and guidance counselor to hundreds of kids who passed through the local public school system.
Ortiz was employed by the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department, the Worcester County Board of Education and Stephen Decatur Middle School for the last two decades. After serving as the assistant coach for Stephen Decatur High School’s varsity volleyball team for several years, she took over for long-time Coach Susan Brinsfield a few years back and took the program to new heights including several Bayside Conference and state regional championships. She was also the assistant coach for the Decatur varsity softball team.
Ortiz passed away in August and long-time assistant Sarah Zimmer has taken over the program, which has not missed a beat early on in the 2012 campaign. After beating Easton in straight sets, 3-2, in the season opener, the Seahawks fell to host Kent Island, 3-2, in the second match of the year.
Last Thursday, after the emotional ceremony honoring Ortiz, the Seahawks swept visiting Pocomoke in straight sets, 3-0, in honor of the late coach. On Tuesday, Decatur swept always-tough Bayside South rival, 3-0, in straight sets, beating the Indians 25-10, 25-21, and 25-10 behind strong performances by Alexis Martinek and Ashley Trice among others.
Coach Ortiz’ daughter Casey Ortiz is also in integral part of the Decatur team this year. A scholarship fund has been set up in her name that will assist her in attending college. Donations can be made to the Casey Ortiz Scholarship Fund at any Taylor Bank branch.