Iker Ortiz-Hidalgo ’17 Prepares to Make His Professional Debut

Posted on September 28th, 2020 by

CANCUN, Mexico – Four years removed from patrolling the Golden Gustie defense, Iker Ortiz-Hidalgo ’17 is back on the football field – this time as a professional. Tiburones Cancun announced the selection of Ortiz-Hidalgo as a linebacker for its inaugural season in Liga FAM.

The Cancun, Mexico native has begun rigorous training in preparation for his first professional football season. Ortiz-Hidalgo credits the technique and skills he obtained under the Gustavus football program to help him reach the next level.

“I feel like the level of football I played at Gustavus was way different than the one here in Mexico,” Ortiz-Hidalgo said. “Going into the season I feel well-prepared even though I haven’t been on the field in three years. Football interest has increased a lot in Mexico but especially in Cancun so I’m excited to be a part of this team.”

As a classics major, Ortiz-Hidalgo was a recipient of the Kehm Smith Award that gave him the opportunity to participate in the Santa Susana Excavation Project in Redondo, Portugal. Outside of his athletic and academic accomplishments on campus, he took away skills that set him up for life outside of the hill as well.

“Gustavus has a lot of values that are applicable to not just football or school but also created a great impact in everything else in life and what I strive for,” Ortiz-Hidalgo said.

The hybrid defensive end and linebacker first learned about Gustavus from Peter Nyhus ’60, a retired financial executive who splits his time between Cancun and Minnesota. Nyhus is involved in the American football community in Cancun and encouraged Gustavus head football coach Peter Haugen to bring his team to Mexico on a service trip. After being exposed to the Gustavus team at a coaching clinic and watching them play in a scrimmage against a local team, Ortiz-Hidalgo became serious about attending Gustavus. Down the road he would demonstrate leadership on and off the field and finish his senior campaign with an All-Conference honorable mention accolade to his resume.

“My main reason for returning to football was the simple fact that I missed it a lot, so I look forward to getting to go back out there.”

With his first practice just months away, Ortiz-Hidalgo has begun offseason training with a colleague who also played college football in the U.S.

“We’re currently working through a month-long phase system,” he said. “My main focus right now looks similar to what a precamp program would; rehabilitation, identifying weak spots, and getting everything back to where it needs to be.”

The linebacker’s first game with Tiburones Cancun is April of 2021 with the post-season concluding in June.

 

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