While riding in R.J. Walker’s silver Toyota Tacoma to Santa Fe Christian High School on game days, Hank “Henry” Ontiveros and Reece Walker, R.J.’s younger brother, always blasted the same song — “Ballroom Blitz” by the British glam rock band Sweet.
The trio’s choice is fitting considering Ontiveros’ range on the lacrosse field. He’s a throwback. Last season during The College of Idaho’s undefeated run to the MCLA Division II semifinals, he tallied 37 goals and 28 assists for the Yotes. He also won 231 of 271 faceoffs. That’s 85.2%.
“When he does lose you don’t really expect it,” Yotes coach Matt Gier said.
While Ontiveros earned first team All-America honors as a faceoff specialist, that designation seems like a misnomer. He defies the convention that if you faceoff, you must specialize at the craft. Last spring, he was a two-way middie while dominating at the X. In other words, he’s the anti-FOGO and doesn’t fit neatly into an acronym. He called his role “eclectic.”
Growing up in Carlsbad, Calif., Ontiveros spent more time on the turf than in the surf. He said he’s played lacrosse “pretty much since I could walk.” Little surprise, he looked up to Trevor Baptiste while he rewrote the record books for faceoffs at Denver. But Ontiveros has never felt the need to limit his ambitions or his lacrosse idols. He was also a big Virginia fan and modeled his game after Tewaaraton winner Steele Stanwick. Ontiveros studied Stanwick’s quick release, his textbook one-handed cradle and the way he quarterbacked the Cavs to a national championship in 2011.
Ontiveros played every position besides goalie for the Pythons in the Adrenaline Youth League. There were stints at defense. Then midfield. In his junior year at Sante Fe Christian, he was the only natural lefty on the team, so Tom Demaio, the director of lacrosse, placed him at attack. In Ontiveros’ first game at the position, he had nine points. He won most of the faceoffs, too.
“He never came off the field,” Reece Walker said.
Ontiveros finished his career as the Eagles’ all-time leading scorer.
Shortly after Ontiveros’ first game at attack, Wagner College came calling. It was his first Division I offer. He jumped right on it.
In his freshman season at Wagner, Ontiveros won 56 of 131 faceoffs as the primary specialist. The Seahawks went 4-10. In the fall after head coach Matt Poskay resigned, Ontiveros mentioned to Reece Walker over the phone that he was considering a change.
There were a lot of things Ontiveros said factored into his choice to enroll at The College of Idaho, which he emphasized was a completely different decision than to leave Wagner.
At C of I, the state’s oldest private liberal arts college with an enrollment around 1,000 students, Ontiveros learned there was an opportunity to have more of a leadership role. There was the ability to be closer to home (it’s a 14-hour drive, but still). There was the Peak Program — the school’s distinctive curriculum consisting of four academic peaks (one major, three minors) and allowed students to explore several areas of interest. There was great skiing at Bogus Basin, less than an hour away. Plus, there were two of Ontiveros’ best friends.
R.J. Walker is a senior attackman. Reece is a junior long stick middie. Both brothers also play football for the Yotes.
“Getting the vibe from all these different people that wanted me here and wanted me to be a part of something special is what really drew me,” Ontiveros said.