Staff Spotlight: Ivan Ortega

Ivan Ortega – CHJS Chicago’s Manager

We recently caught up with the ever busy Ivan Ortega, CHJS Chicago’s Manager. Though one of the newer staff members, Ivan brings an incredible amount of knowledge and passion to our organization. And we could not be more excited for y’all to get to know Ivan even more. In Chicago and want to join the growing healing-centered sport family? Reach out to Ivan,


Where are you from/where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on the West side of Chicago. Humboldt is predominantly a Puerto Rican community, explaining my love for jibaritos & plantains. My parents migrated from Michoacan, Mexico where we’ve been grateful to drive as a family, a road trip taking over 36 hours. We’re a family of 7 🙂


Ivan Ortega

What sports do you play?

I’d like to say I play all sports, even though I haven’t played every sport. It’s all about having fun with a spirit of competition. My primary sport is basketball – KOBE. ALL. DAY. Sometimes the Brown Mamba makes an appearance. I also enjoy playing soccer, baseball/softball, flag football (only tackle during Turkey bowls). I’m nice at Mini-Golf. 


Tell us about the Chicago sports vibe. What makes it Chicago (And if you really think it is…why is Chicago the BEST sports town)?

What makes Chicagos the best sports town is the loyalty and pride Chicagoans have for their sports teams. Even with an 108-year championship drought – fans continued to pack Wrigley Field and keep hope of what could be. In 2016, 5 million Cubs fans, Chicagoans, united downtown to celebrate their World Championship – no other sports town championship celebration has gotten close. FUN FACT – this was the 7th largest human gathering of all time. The Chicago Bulls in the 90s, MJ, Pippen, Rodman, Mr. Zen (Phil Jackson) – influenced sports, culture, and society forever. Should I continue?! 


As great as sport is, what do you wish could change? 

More focus on values & skills being learned and less emphasis on winning. On top of having points based on the result of the game, teams & players should be able to earn points throughout the game, which can be based more on acts of teamwork, leadership, and sportsmanship. America SCORES does a great job with this! 


What do you wish all coaches knew?

I want all coaches to recognize the importance of addressing and managing their mental health needs to ensure they fully show up for their players/youth.

“I hope all coaches take moments before, during and after practices & games to regulate themselves; allowing them to create the most healing-centered space possible.

Coaches should be encouraged to show vulnerability with youth and model effective ways to manage difficult moments- coaches have the opportunity to be great role models. Becoming dysregulated is normal- life is very unpredictable, thus stressful at times- it’s more important how we respond to it. 


What goals do you have for CHJS in Chicago?

Our goal is for CHJS to continue providing equitable access to free healing-centered training for organizations, community members, and local stakeholders. To create intentional spaces for sports coaches, youth-workers, and parents to raise awareness around the power of sport. Lastly, for CHJS to continue expanding and strengthen their network in Chicago through relationship-building with organizations, youth & sport advocates, as well as inviting leaders from other sectors not involving sport. 


Are there any events or training you want people to know about and attend?

Yes, we have a few upcoming training opportunities where we will dive into the healing aspects of sport, what trauma-informed care is, and healing-centered strategies coaches & mentors can use to create supportive environments for their youth. Also, in the spring we will have opportunities for a deeper dive cohort-style training where we will discuss the impact trauma has on brain functions when it is constant and tools to help address and alleviate the stress youth are experiencing.


Any fun facts you want to share?

I am a husband & father of two girls #girldad, became a father at 19! I’m also first in my family to earn Bachelor & Master degrees. Shoutout to my fellow first-generation college grads! And, I met and shook hands with 44! PRESIDENT Barack Obama.


In Chicago and want to join the growing healing-centered sport family? Email Ivan today,