Gustavo Ortolano moved with his family from Brazil to Surrey, B. C. in 2007. He has played soccer since he was young. While competing on Surrey community teams, he moved to a higher, more competitive level.
“I wanted to get to the highest ranking team that plays in nationals,” Gus recalls. “They go on trips to play in all the provinces.” Gus’ dream lead him to seek out the head coach of Surrey Guildford United, a High Provincial League soccer team. This British Columbia team would play against the top team of each province across Canada.
The coach had told Gus that there would be tryouts and those chosen would come to practices with the team, while still expecting cuts along the way. Gus made it through tryouts. “I got to practice with the team, and meet many of the players.” He was excited to next make the first cut. Then, the coach told Gus the team was traveling to games from Fridays to Mondays. “I knew that would interfere with my Sabbath worship, so I had to give this careful consideration.”
Later, at home, Gus decided to get guidance from his parents and from church talks to help consider his options. “My father has always been my biggest fan.” Gus explains. “He signed me up for soccer from the time I was very young. He came to all my games and was so very supportive. When I told him I had made this important, prestigious team, he was excited for me. But hearing the team would be playing on Sunday, he told me, ‘I’ll let you chose if you will play or if you will go to church.’ I appreciate how he let me make the decision. It helped me grow and it was a good experience.”
Gus turned also to the 2014 May Ensign, finding a talk by Neil L. Anderson called Love and Service. In that talk, a New Zealand rugby player, Sidney Going, passed the chance to play for ‘the most celebrated rugby team ever,’ the All Blacks, so that he could serve in the Western Canadian Mission. “That story really helped me out in making a good decision,” said Gus.
It was difficult for Gus to approach the coach with his decision. He explained, “I have previous commitments to church on Sunday and, unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate with the team on their weekend trips.” The coach appeared shocked and upset. He had anticipated that Gus would be on the team. The coach told Gus that the only thing that could keep him from being on the team was “the Sunday thing.” But, Gus realized that being on the team would completely occupy Sundays.
As Gus considered his position, he decided to join a lower level team that practiced on weekdays and played games on Saturdays. “I went back to the lower level, and still enjoyed playing, while building lots of friendships.”
“For me, this was the hardest thing I ever did. For all my years of playing soccer I had dreamed of playing on the HPL soccer team, and felt bad to upset the coach by telling him I would not play on Sunday. At first I felt regret, because I couldn’t do what I had always wanted to do, but I know that it was the right decision.”
Gus explains: “When I was little, I went to church to feel good and to be with friends. As I grew older, I realized that the information we learn and the feelings we get in church, we can’t receive anywhere else. If you go to school and listen to the most qualified, educated person, you don’t feel the same way as when you go to Sunday school or Sacrament Meeting. When you hear talks in church on Sunday, the Spirit is a lot stronger than anywhere else.”
Gus was a great strength to the young men while he was in the Surrey 3rd Ward Priests Quorum. In leadership positions, he learned to work with and encourage his peers. “I have a particular friend who spent time with me, and I encouraged him to come to church. I helped him to not feel isolated, so he got a little bit of church through me. He is now regularly attending again.”
While in Surrey, Gus accompanied the missionaries often. At home, he also enjoyed teaching his parents, brother and sister their Family Home Evening using lessons from Preach My Gospel.
Soccer continues to fill a large part of Gus’ ambitions. He has attended two BYU soccer camps and has tried out for the team. “I enjoyed being around players who are as good as I am, and especially players who have the same standards I have. That’s a very different experience,” he says.
In Fall 2014, Gus began a semester of school at BYU Idaho. There, he felt excited to begin a six- month Prospective Missionary Program. He says it is much like the MTC. “I enjoyed being with people who believe as I do. It was much easier to keep my standards with these good friends around me.”