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John Ortolani Gets Branded

Current Boston Cannon and Blazer John Ortolani is a homegrown D3 midfielder with a busy off-field life. His celebrated MMA career has rapidly put him in the lacrosse spotlight. Between sets he recently answered a few questions.

Do you consider yourself a F.O.G.O.?

Only with the Cannons, on the Blazers I play D as well.

Is it because you lose faceoffs in indoor and don’t have the time to get off?

Sometimes I get D-runs if the other team has a F.O.G.O. or an offensive minded guy taking the draws and I lose. I do take regular D shifts during the indoor games too.

How far is the house you grew up in from TD Banknorth Garden and Harvard Stadium?

About 25 minutes to each.

Do you think your proximity to these teams’ home fields made you more enticing to sign?

I think so. It’s always more exciting for organizations and fans to have local players on the teams. It allows the fans to relate to the players and brings in more fans to each game. Also, when teams sign local players it cuts down on costs for travel expenses and allows them to spend more money in other areas or on better non-local talent.

John Ortolani Boston Cannons
Orto vs. Eck at a Boston Cannons practice

You’re involved in two totally different pro sports (lacrosse and mixed martial arts), what percent is devoted to one and how much the other?

They’re really not that much different, training for fights helps me with faceoffs and playing lacrosse keeps my cardio up for fighting. I train for MMA about 6 days a week and play lacrosse 3 days a week depending on the season.

How often do you practice lacrosse as opposed to just playing lacrosse?

During the off-season I don’t really practice too much unless I am practicing with a team I am coaching. I just play as much as possible. In season we have team practices usually once or twice a week and I try to get in one more day of lax training on my own.

You guys picked up some studs for the Blazers this year and were compared to the Heat in the NBA. How should all this talent be managed on one team?

I think all these guys are the best in their own way. They bring different things to the table and I’m excited to see how they play together. It’s going to be an exciting season.

John Ortolani Boston Blazers
Orto wins a faceoff for the Boston Blazers

Whats a bigger mental battle, pre fight or pre faceoff?

Definitely pre fight. There is so much going through my head before a fight about game planning, different techniques I want to use, opponents techniques I want to avoid, etc. Also with fighting you have to wait sometimes months between fights. That is a long time to think about one mistake that gets you KO’d. In a game, if I lose a faceoff I know I will have another chance in a few minutes. I am aware of opponents favorite moves, but it all happens in a split second on the whistle so there is less thinking involved. Win or lose in a faceoff I forget about it right away and move on to the next one.

Considering you’re teammates with guys like Casey Powell, Dan Dawson, Paul Rabil, and Matt Poskay, have your stick skills gone through the roof?

Yes, my stick skills have improved dramatically from practicing and playing with the best players in the world. It’s kind of hard not to. It’s like they make everyone around them better.

When is your next fight?

I dont have a fight scheduled right now. I won’t schedule one until the end of Blazers season, for the beginning of the summer. For now it’s just training and getting better.

John Ortolani Lacrosse Magazine
Orto was recently featured on the cover of Lacrosse Magazine

If Rabil could talk coach Belichick into signing you what would be your role with the Pats?

When I played football I was a slot receiver and a free safety. Those might be the only roles I could play being 5’7″, but guys like Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead give the little guys hope.

Finally, what’s your fondest memory about laxing in Melbourne, Australia with me in 2008?

There are so many fond memories, they all blend together. Surfing, hanging out with the players and coaches, getting as close to the wild kangaroos as possible without being attacked, and of course the Braveheart!

To fill you in, we introduced the Braveheart to the people of Australia during the Down Under Cup back in 2008. We won’t go into what happened, but we did have the entire club out of the building and on to the fence to watch their first one-on-one overtime.

John Ortolani Australia
Orto playing some D in Australia

Thanks for your time Orto and good luck with both Boston teams in 2011. Hope to see you back in the octagon soon!