Most athletes have dreams and aspirations of honing their craft at the next level. For high school athletes, that next level is college. There are many fantastic colleges out there, however, to be able to continue playing the game you love at one of the most prestigious colleges in the country is truly a blessing.
For Tatyanah Castillo that dream has been a reality for the last two years. The 2016 Golden Valley graduate and former softball standout have been playing at Dartmouth University in Vermont for the last two years.
The path to get to a school like Dartmouth is not an easy one. In a day and age where athletes are committing to colleges at earlier ages, Castillo had to wait until her junior year before making that pledge. Knowing that her goal was always to get to an Ivy League, Castillo knew she had to be patient.
“Ninety percent of my travel ball teammates were verbally committed to D1 universities during their freshman and sophomore years,” Castillo said.
That wasn’t the case for Castillo, not that she didn’t want to but she couldn’t.
“Ivy League schools prefer their athletes to have three years of a proven academic track record prior to verbally committing,” Castillo said.
The Ivy League schools require a high GPA, high standardized test scores and for athletes, a tremendous athletic ability. Fortunately for Castillo, she met the requirements and gained admittance to Dartmouth. Many young softball players aspire to play for teams such as Arizona State or UCLA, but making it to an Ivy League school was a dream come true for Castillo.
Transitioning from high school to college for both academics and athletics can be difficult for even the most prepared, but preexisting habits can help make the transition smoother. Castillo said she previously established proper study skills, a strong work ethic, and a desire for self-improvement as a high school student.
However, one thing she wasn’t really prepared for was learning course material on a 10-week time table instead of the 20 weeks in a normal high school semester. This made it much more important for Castillo to establish better time management skills to balance out her rigorous softball practices, her academics, and personal life schedule.
The adjustment for many athletes from one level to the next can be a challenging one. For some, the move from high school to college is easy. However, for Castillo it’s proven to be a bit difficult. In high school, she had no problem hitting the ball for both average and power as she finished her high school career with a 0.448 batting average.
Along with a high batting average she slugged nine home runs with a career-high of 5 her senior year and drove in 70 over her three-year career at Golden Valley. During her sophomore season, she only hit 0.196, a difficult transition for someone who previously hit 448 during her senior year attending Golden Valley.
From this, she was able to learn how important it is to “ignore negative thoughts and influences, [set] higher goals and improving [her] work ethic to achieve them.” Additionally, she has been able to take in how “I can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
Castillo’s team and the bond she has made with her teammates has provided for a good college experience so far.
It is her responsibility as the SAAC or student-athlete advisory committee representative to arrange the “teams outreach service with the community. On the field, [she works] endlessly to improve [her] performance,” she said.
Her dedication to improve and provide her team with proper leadership “helps foster an environment of healthy competition which can help improve the performance off [her] teammates,” she said.
For Castillo, it is about the game, but even more so about education. With the work ethic, she has learned by playing such a rigorous sport, she was able to get into her dream school of Dartmouth. The experiences she’s had and the memories she created, made all of the hard work she put into her high school career worth it.