Melissa Ortiz: “Soccer has made me who I am today”
Hi there! My name is Melissa Ortiz, a Colombian National Team player since 2009. Today, I am happy to share that Women’s Soccer United has given me the space to be able to inject my thoughts and stories about women’s football and all of its’ surroundings over the course of time.
Soccer has made me who I am today. I have been extremely fortunate to play this beautiful sport for so many years. Soccer for me not only is a passion but is a way of life. Through priceless experiences and travels, I have genuinely been able to see how soccer provides opportunities and adds culture to people around the world.
Now, to tell you more about my “historia”…
My more competitive years began at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. For four years I was the team leading scorer in addition to various conference awards including Sunshine State Conference MVP. During my freshman year of college in 08/09, I had been scouted by Mario Rincon (the current head coach at Saint Leo University) to try out for the Colombian National Team. Being that both of my parents are Colombian, and me having dual citizenship, it was always my dream to represent my culture, my roots, and country. After missing about a month of classes freshman year, my time in South America was proven valuable. I had made the squad and categorized in the national team pool for the upcoming events. From there I went on to compete in the 2010 Women’s U20 FIFA World Cup, 2012 London Olympics, 2014 Copa America, 2014 Juegos Centroamericanos, and alternate in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, I missed the 2015 Women’s World Cup after tearing my Achilles just four days before the event. I also played professionally in Iceland for KR (Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur) and then for a short time at the Boston Breakers as well as Deportivo Cucuta Gol Star in Colombia.
A few months ago I made a difficult decision to take a break from competing with the Colombian National Team. For a mix of reasons ranging from the lack of support to no pay, I honestly felt it was time for me to step back and start working on my career off the pitch. There is only so long that we can deal with not being paid. There is only so long that we can play just for the passion of it. There is only so long that we can “accept it” just because supposedly there is no other choice. I am genuinely confident there will be changes made once all veterans come together to take a stand for a common goal. Trust me. My goal is to help make changes for current and future generations of female soccer players in Colombia and around the globe. Thank you Women’s Soccer United for giving me the opportunity to spread my word, knowledge, and thoughts to better serve our soccer world.