Memory of Peter Ortale . . .
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Peter Ortale, a product of Penn
Charter, died 9/11/01 in the World Trade Center
disaster. Ted wrote this story in May 1982, when Pete was a budding lacrosse star.
Go to bottom of file for update on scholarship in Pete's name.
Until he started drawing nibbles from an assortment of high schools
football and scholastic talents, Pete Ortale had never heard of Penn Charter.
And, until he entered Penn Charter, Ortale had never heard of lacrosse.
Of course, if somebody conducted person-in-the-street interviews at Bridge
and Pratt streets, a major intersection in the Frankford section, where Pete
Ortale lives, a mention of Penn Charter and lacrosse would draw little more
than blank stares.
Yes, blue-collar types, there is a Penn Charter, located in West
Germantown. And its lacrosse team, which yesterday thumped visiting
Unionville, 9-0, in the quarter-final round, is the No. 1 seed in the "state"
"State" must be qualified because no team from Western Pennsylvania is
involved in the playoffs and very few schools compete in the sport. " Only 40
to 50," says Coach Joe Perrott of Penn Charter, even play lacrosse in Eastern
But the level of play is surprisingly high. This year, for instance, Penn
Charter owns victories over teams from lacrosse-rich Long Island and
Ortale, a junior midfielder, is the Quakers' top player. Counting
yesterday's game, he has 24 goals and a team-high 23 assists. Other leaders
are Chris Roak (goals); Adam Wall (gaining possession of balls on the ground);
Dave Fass (winning 80 percent of faceoffs); defender Jim Walker (routinely
blankets top scorers), and goalie Joe Donnelly (stops more than 80 percent of
"I'M NOT A very good baseball player," Ortale said, laughing. "That's the
main reason I'm playing lacrosse.
"I played four years of second base for the Frankford Boys Club. I wasn't
what you would call terrible, but I didn't do well mainly because I was bored.
There wasn't enough action in baseball."
When Pete arrived at Penn Charter, he was turned onto lacrosse by the likes
of Roak, Wall and Donnelly. Also, fellow Frankford product Terry Dowling, who
went on to play football at Penn, was completing an outstanding lacrosse
career with the Quakers.
"I watched some games," Ortale said. "Before long, I was telling myself,
'This sport's great. It has everything.' Like folks say, it is the
fastest sport on two feet."
But don't get us wrong. It's not unusual for players to leave their feet.
From time to time, lacrosse can be every bit as brutal as hockey, which it
resembles in many ways.
"I often find myself wanting to argue with guys on the other teams,
especially when they get dirty," Ortale said. "Guys are constantly hacking
away. But like our assistant, Mr. (Chris) Teare, always tells us, 'Let your
stick do your talking.'
"You can develop great respect for the opposing players, though. Take a
player like (Episcopal's) Chris Flynn. We compete against each other non-
Though lacrosse is basically a well-kept secret in terms of media
coverage, it has been part of the Penn Charter sports scene for 15 years and
several players have advanced to big-time college lacrosse.
"IT'S GROWING in acceptance," Ortale said. "There's a lacrosse magazine
and it has capsule info on all the college and high school teams in
Pennsylvania prior to the season.
"Penn Charter had a really great player named Corky Andrews a few seasons
ago. Last spring, a lot of the guys on the team went to Dave Fass' house and
watched Corky's college team on ESPN. He had something like three goals.
"I can't say lacrosse is my favorite sport because I really love football.
But I realize there's a chance to do more in college lacrosse than college
football because I'm not very big."
Last year, in what was expected to be an off-year, Penn Charter marched to
the semis before losing to Abington. The Ghosts then topped Haverford School,
which Charter had dumped twice.
"Some people wait their entire life and never get a second chance at
something they really want," Ortale said. "We're getting chances in back-
to-back seasons and we don't want to miss out again."
At first, Pete Ortale's friends were suspect of PC and lacrosse. Pete was
somewhat unsure of the former himself.
"You know how people joke about preppies," Pete said. "I was a little
worried, but I fit in well after the initial adjustment. Some of my
neighborhood friends have met some of my Penn Charter friends. They've gotten
"My neighborhood friends are also getting used to lacrosse. They come to
games sometimes and, when I bring out my stick, they're always asking to throw
around a ball.
"They're not sure what they're doing," Pete added, laughing, "but that's
OK. I was that way when I started, too."
These days, Pete Ortale knows precisely what he's doing when it comes to
Scholarship Benefit Honors Penn Charter
Killed in World Trade Center Attacks
Peter K. Ortale, a securities broker and athlete killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers, was honored last week by family, friends and classmates who raised more than $130,000 for a memorial scholarship at his alma mater, William Penn Charter School.
Gov. Edward G. Rendell, whose son, Jesse, also graduated from Penn Charter, attended the Sept. 19 benefit auction at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and took the podium to auction one of the evenings attractions: tickets to his booth at a Philadelphia Eagles game.
Catherine Grimes, one of Ortales sisters, said her family was overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity and support for the Ortale scholarship. It seemed that many people related to the idea of doing something positive in the wake of something so tragic, Grimes said.
Ortale was an exemplary scholar and athlete at Penn Charter, and he attended the Quaker school in East Falls on a scholarship. After his death, his family and friends decided a scholarship in his name would be a meaningful way to honor his life.
Peter always talked about his days at Penn Charter as a time of tremendous personal
and intellectual growth, Grimes said. We believe the establishment of this
scholarship is exactly what Peter would have wanted -- to give other young people the same
chance he was given to grow and develop their talents to the utmost.
After his graduation from Penn Charter, Ortale attended Duke University; at both schools he was an outstanding lacrosse player, and he continued to play lacrosse for various U.S. and Austrialian teams. Ortale was 37 years old and working as a securities broker for Euro Brokers Inc. when the World Trade Center was attacked.
More than 300 friends from Penn Charter, Duke, the lacrosse world and the New York financial industry joined his family for the benefit auction.