Citizen Airmen creates scholarship in honor of his father

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexis Suarez
  • 927th Air Refueling Wing

Coming up on his seventh season volunteering as a youth football coach, MSgt. Joshua Ortega, Instructor In-Flight Refueler for the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron, hopes to continue on his father’s legacy on and off the field.

Ortega started the Coach Frank Ortega Foundation in honor of his father with the goal of raising money to offset the costs associated with little league football for families who may not be able to afford it otherwise.  Additionally, there are funds available for post graduate education opportunities for one male and female in the program each year. 

 “His whole life was about giving back to others; my dad started by coaching me then continued on for 20 years sharing wisdom and support on and off the field,” said Ortega. “I thought the best way to honor my father was to get more kids involved in the sport he loved.”

The Coach Frank Ortega Foundation raises money for the scholarships by holding a golf scramble and a flag football tournament. The inaugural golf tournament held June 25th, 2022 in Tampa Bay, raised enough money to award multiple scholarships to high schoolers who applied.

“The way the board selects scholarship recipients is similar to how award winners in the Air Force are selected,” said Ortega. “Applicants submit a package with the required criteria, and the board will award points, then we narrow down to the top three and the best average score.”

Ortega stated that the criteria was fairly simple, they look for applicants who will really benefit from this opportunity, struggling students or single hard-working parents who want better for their kids. Ortega said his father saw sports as a “way out” for the kids.

“If we can keep kids off the streets, have them safe doing what they love, we can make a large impact on the community,” said Ortega. My father taught me the values of helping others in need.”

 Ortega’s late father, Frank Ortega, was raised by his mom as a single parent and they lived paycheck to paycheck. Frank took to sports when he entered high school and eventually made his way to joining the United States Marine Corps. After military service, Frank wanted to help kids facing a similar upbringing.

Frank’s legacy lives on not only through the Coach Frank Ortega Foundation, but also through the organization which has renamed their playing field to be known as “The Frank Ortega Field at Vance Vogel Park”.