Ryan Ortiz

Let’s see; what do you do in this situation?

You’re a 2020 graduate of Rio Rancho High School, with a scholarship to play football at St. Ambrose College in Iowa. The pandemic, which started changing things in March, throws a possible roadblock in your path.

Ryan Ortiz, who played football and also wrestled at RRHS, decided he didn’t want to be in debt and continued with his landscaping business, which he started a year and a half ago. His father, Andrew Ortiz, who has a construction company, provided the impetus and motivation for a money-making way to get by even before graduation.

“Give me a call for your landscaping needs (515-8539),” he posted on Facebook, along with a couple photos of his work. “Any retaining walls, concrete work or anything you need done!”

Next month, Ortiz said, he’ll sign up to join the Army National Guard. Earlier, he “signed up” to attend the University of New Mexico, where he’s taking 13 credit hours and — surprise — majoring in business, and keeping his eye on economics for his business acumen.

“With COVID-19 — I’ve been doing (landscaping) so long — I was going to be in debt with football, and I came back (home),” he said. Despite the scholarship to play football, other college costs deterred him. “I was still going to be in debt $3,000.”

“Ryan has always been an attention-to-detail kind of guy,” said his head coach at RRHS, David Howes. “He always has a smile and is extremely charismatic. He always maintained good grades and has an ear on the ground (meaning he was always aware of what was going on around him). He played different positions for us and was part of a senior leadership group that really had to tough their way through some adversity.

“Ryan also tried multiple sports, including track, where he was excelling when we got shut down last spring,” Howes continued.

One of Ryan Ortiz’s landscaping projects.
Courtesy photo

“These specific attributes are why I am not surprised that he has teamed up with his dad and started a company doing landscaping. He has always had dreams of being an officer like his dad, and I know he also plans on going to the National Guard or Reserves. ‘Ambitious’ is also a good word to describe Ryan Ortiz.”

With “ambitious” comes capitalism: “Anything that makes me money is my favorite project,” Ortiz said.

Don’t worry about this “kid” having trouble lifting or shifting landscaping materials: He weighed 230 pounds as a senior lineman.

By the way, his sister Amaya, critically injured in an automobile accident in Albuquerque in June, is recovering nicely, Ortiz said.