Rookie of the Year: Desireé M. Ortiz Torres

For second year in a row UPRM has won the “Liga Atletica Universitaria.” With the help of many athletes our university was able to accomplish this milestone. Taking that into account let’s take a look into of last year’s Rookie of the Year, Desiree M. Ortiz Torres.

Desiree M. Ortiz Torres is a 19 year old and second year student from the Kinesiology department. Initially motivated by her brother, she started practicing table tennis at the age of 10 years old. Although this is only her second year as an athlete, Desiree was not only named Rookie of the Year but also the Most Valuable Player of table tennis this year and her team finished fourth place.

Like many athletes, Desiree recognizes that the key to being the best athlete you can be is training. “What I’ve done to get better is train” she states. Training everyday is what kept her momentum for this year’s season. All this training is not new since she mentions that it has stayed consistent since last year in order to achieve her goals. Desiree also mentions that she trains two to three hours every day. She mentions that she makes spaces between her classes to be able to study so later she can have free time to be able to study, since this is part of her responsibility as a student and athlete.

Although last year and this one have been filled with successes, she recognizes that she has gone through hardships. Before college, she was unable to practice the sport for a year due to a injury in her left knee which led her to surgery. Desiree also recognizes that she has weakness in her sport which she says is her forehand but she makes up for that by mentioning that her strength is her backhand. In addition to this, Desiree mentions that unlike many athletes she doesn’t have a ritual and is usually very calm before a game.  She does say what truly motivates her before any game is her family.

About the support from her peers, she mentions that sadly table tennis is not a sport recognized by many so the support is minimal. However, the university provides the team with the basic equipment. This however could change. The university is facing impending budget cuts that could affect the athletic teams. About this Desiree states that “it is very unfair because many athlete can't afford the tuition costs” and there will be substantial drop in participation of athletes. If there are budgets cuts, many athletes will stop training since many will start working and studying to be able to continue with their education and afford tuition. Desiree herself states that if these budgets happen it will be very difficult for her to be able to study in UPRM since she leaves in Trujillo Alto, so studying here will become expensive.

Even though being an athlete has many sacrifices, this sport is very important in her life. “This sport is very important to me because is what I’ve been watching and doing since I was 5 years old and it was what led me to study in ‘el Colegio’” she expresses. She even mentions that wearing the university colors is something unexplainable to her, since it was something that was always in her head. Besides this pride she feels she knew she had expectations to meet once she joined the team and knew she had to compete for a medal. After all the highest milestone she wanted to achieve within this sport was to participate in the LAI.