SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Five former Cal Poly football players, all of whom co-founded Spico Solutions in Cardiff, California, have collaborated to create the Osbaldo Orozco Memorial Football Scholarship.
Tom Vorhees, Brett Sagaser, Jon Peck, Jonathan Trotter and Gary Gatiss will support a full athletic scholarship annually, named in honor of the former Mustang linebacker who died in 2003 in Tikrit, Iraq, while serving for the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Orozco, who grew up in Earlimart in Tulare County and attended Delano High School, served in the university's ROTC program. He was the first member of his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor's degree in social science in 2001.
"Osbaldo Orozco was a leader, an integral part of our defense, and someone that bled green and gold. When he made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, it was always our goal to honor his memory in some way," said Sagaser. "The opportunity to help the Mustang football program get closer to being fully funded in our scholarships and looking to change a young man's life from the same area that Osbaldo was from gives us that opportunity."
On the football field from 1995-99, Orozco recorded 300 career tackles, which is now No. 7 in the Cal Poly record book. Among his tackles were 136 solo stops and 23 for lost yardage.
He made 106 tackles in 1997, tied for No. 13 all-time at Cal Poly for a single season, and was voted linebacker of the year in 1998 and most inspirational player in 1999 by his teammates.
Orozco went on to command a platoon in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they guarded Al Qaeda prisoners, before serving in Iraq. He married Mayra Mendez Orozco on June 23, 2001.
"When Coach Payam Saadat was hired back at Cal Poly to work with our defensive line, it rekindled our connection to Cal Poly Football and the athletics program," said Vorhees. "It's always been a goal of ours to give back and make a program that brought all of us together even better. To do it in Osbaldo's memory makes it that much more impactful to us."
The annual scholarship begins in the 2018-19 academic year. Football student-athletes of all positions, majors and class levels are eligible, but the preference of the donors is for a student-athlete from the Central Valley (Kern, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties) where Orozco was from.
"Many of us were scholarship athletes at Cal Poly. We met each other and learned many valuable lessons that have led us on a journey to have successful 20-year careers together. We've ended up as teammates for life and hope we can help mentor other Mustangs on how their time at Cal Poly can impact the rest of their lives," said Peck.
Scholarship recipients will be asked to attend an annual scholarship event with football alumni and Orozco family members.
Vorhees, Sagaser, Peck and Trotter all were teammates of Orozco in the mid-1990s. Gatiss played in the late 1980s.
Vorhees is Chief Executive Officer of Spico Solutions, which is based in the San Diego County city of Cardiff and specializes in big data sales and services.
Sagaser is Vice President of Professional Services, Gatiss is a regional sales manager, Peck is a vice president of sales and Trotter is a vice president in business development.
All except Peck were linebackers at Cal Poly while Peck was a wide receiver.
Trotter (Sanger High School) notched 272 total tackles from 1993-96 with 10 sacks and led the 1996 team with 88 tackles, 10 tackles for lost yardage and four sacks. His 31 tackles for lost yardage is tied for No. 8 in Cal Poly's 23 Division I seasons.
Sagaser (Lemoore High School) earned 198 total career tackles and five sacks from 1994-97 and made 16 tackles for lost yardage as a junior in 1996.
Gatiss (Saratoga High School) garnered 160 career tackles from 1986-89, including eight for lost yardage, and was the 1989 team's top tackler with 79 tackles.
Vorhees (Lemoore High School) played from 1993-96 and his best season was as a senior when he made 57 tackles, 10 for lost yardage.
On the other side of the ball, Peck (Irvine High School) caught 144 passes for 2,254 yards and 12 touchdowns from 1993-96. He led the 1995 squad with 61 receptions for 989 yards and eight scores.