In recent years, the Santa Clarita Valley has been a hotbed of softball talent with girls heading to top-notch colleges like Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee and Oklahoma. One school in particular has been void in sending athletes to some of these colleges, however that’s changing.
Golden Valley High School junior Tatyanah Castillo has verbally committed to Dartmouth University in New Hampshire. Dartmouth is consistently ranked as one of the top academic institutions in the nation and Castillo feels fortunate to be attending there.
“My plan has always been to get a college education from a top liberal arts college and the Ivy League was at the top of my list,” said Castillo. “I did have my doubts because their acceptance rate is only 10%.”
That all changed after attending a camp in Dartmouth and impressing the coaching staff.
“I realized who I am, where I come from and who I want to be. Dartmouth changed my outlook on life. I loved the campus, coaches, players, town, and weather. Dartmouth is where I want to be,” she said.
With a 4.3 GPA, being named a team captain, and of course being the daughter of the head coach, there comes a great amount of responsibility and she is ready to take that upon herself.
“Being a captain as a junior is a great honor at GVHS. This is a growing program and I plan to play a significant role in it’s development”, said Castillo.
Even though she was named as a team captain, she understands there are those ahead of her who have experience as well.
“I plan to learn as much as possible this season from the examples of our senior captains, Miranda Escalera and Racqual Espinoza,” she added.
Taking the experience from seniors can only help Castillo as she continues to try to earn her school and program respect among the valleys other teams.
Being a captain is a difficult role but Castillo is a leader both on and off the field. Off the field and in the classroom she’s a shining example of what a student athlete needs to be.
“Tatyanah is a strong offensive player, who works hard on her hitting skills, she believes in hitting off a tee and performs the alone work every night,” said Coach Castillo.
Working alone can get kind of boring and monotonous but she loves doing it because it’s going to improve her game. Playing for her father can also present a problem not only for the player but for the coach as well. She likes playing for her dad.
“We meet at an intellectual level, on and off the field. He’s very direct and knows when to say, NO. He loves his players and treats us all the same,” she said.
Coach Castillo also understands the dynamics of the relationship.
“We have established rules and we both do a good job of following these rules. For example, we never leave the field upset with one another. We discuss things until we hug each other. My wife does not allow softball arguments at home,” said Coach Castillo.
She agrees with what her father says but sometimes that leaves a few extra minutes after practice.
“When we get off the field we can no longer discuss my individual softball performance,” she said. “Unfortunately this means some long discussions before we get off the field and into the car.”
Even with the ups and downs of the father/daughter/coach/player relationship it’s great for both parties.
“The best part for me is the satisfaction of making him proud,” she added.
Coach Castillo also thinks there are many positives with coaching his own.
“It’s probably every father’s dream come true. The opportunity to coach my daughter has created a very strong bond between us. We are very direct, honest and supportive of each other. She is my best friend!” he said.
In his fifth year at Golden Valley, Coach Castillo has tried to change the culture while also giving girls other than his own a chance to further their softball playing careers at the college level.
“Yes my daughter is going to Dartmouth but we’re focused on helping all the girls in our program continue their careers at the next level,” said Coach Castillo.
That statement is supported by the fact that other than ‘Taty,’ there are three girls on the team right now who will achieve that goal. Senior captain Miranda Escalera is committed to Sterling College in Kansas, senior captain Racqual Espinoza is committed to Cal Lutheran, and senior Gabby Thomas is committed to George Fox University in Oregon.
Every player has goals they want to accomplish and Castillo is no different.
“As a team I would like to qualify for CIF playoffs. As an individual, I hope to be viewed as a good role model for future GVHS softball players,” she said.
As the league season approaches, the Lady Grizzlies are looking to people like Taty and their senior captains to help make a difference in how other teams view them. They’re hoping to earn the respect of the Foothill League by doing things the right way. With the drive, determination, attitude, togetherness, chemistry and desire, this group has it. Wouldn’t shock anyone to find the Lady Grizzlies at or near the top of the Foothill League a month from now.
– Dominic Fernandez