By Ashika Raval – Staff Writer
Bobby Castro, senior top-defender on the men’s soccer team ended his last season with a successful senior night.
Castro, a Cary native, was recruited on the men’s soccer team by Coach Matt Kern, and after four years, successfully left his mark on the team.
“I started playing T-ball when I was five and I got so bored, I kicked dirt on the field so my mom decided it was time for something else. So since I was six years old I started playing soccer, and ever since then I stuck with soccer,” Castro said.
Castro is one of 11 student-athletes named to the Capital One Academic All-District 3 Men’s Soccer Division I team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Castro, a four year starter, is the team’s leading scorer and plays almost every position on the field. This is Castro’s second consecutive year as co-captain.
“It can be difficult being captain because I don’t always know how to approach everybody in a similar manner. It’s growing pains, the second year as captain is better than the first year, because now I can kind of see how to approach guys. It can be stressful because it comes down on your shoulder. The guys look up to me and I lead by example mainly but it comes down to respect,” Castro said.
Teammates of Castro said they value his work ethic.
“Bobby is one of the hardest workers on the team on the field and in the classroom. For me personally he has been a good role model and has been a leader for us all,” said Zak Davis, junior goalkeeper.
Throughout his four years on the team, Castro said he has definitely seen great improvements from his team.
“I think as a team we have done everything we are supposed to do, we all came in fit and we’ve all been working really hard together. It’s just one of those things, you win some you lose some and at any given day you can win or lose. For example, when we outplayed VMI, we had possession 65 to 35 in favor to us and they had one lucky break and scored so we lost one to nothing. But then this weekend we beat Coastal Carolina who is sixth in the nation. So you see something like that bounce our way. So that’s the hardest part this year, we play so well but the results aren’t going out way,” Castro said.
Last weekend UNCA’s men’s soccer team defeated Big South Leader and sixth-ranked Coastal Carolina 1-0.
“We came in thinking we have nothing to lose. They are the sixth in the nation, they are supposed to finish No. 1 in our conference, they’re supposed to so they have no expectations of us. We want to make the tournament, we want to win the game, but the conference doesn’t think much of us. There was no pressure on us, we played soccer like we were 10 years old again, and we had no pressure. We went out and had a good time because our family and friends were there for our senior night,” Castro said.
According to Castro, their victory still hasn’t hit him.
“It’s really emotional for me and some of the other seniors, we’ve had our good times and bad times these past four years. It meant a lot to most of us. I cried, I had to, all the work we put in, all the work paid off and we saw results,” Castro said.
Castro led the Bulldogs by example with hard work and commitment, traits that came to epitomize the senior captain.
“I think most people don’t understand what it takes to be a Division I athlete. People see us as ‘Oh they get more than other people.’ They think we get early registration, which we don’t anymore,” Castro said. “People don’t understand that it takes a lot to play a sport from a year to four years, which is a big accomplishment. Not many people can stick it out, it’s demanding. Being an athlete has definitely opened doors for me, but also I took that next step. I put the time and effort into each thing I did.”
After Castro graduates as a health and wellness student, he said he hopes to move forward into his career and doesn’t plan on continuing soccer.
“My goal essentially is to take a year off to get my clinical hours, either being a pharmacy tech or medical assistant, and then from there I will go to PA school and specialize in orthopedics,” Castro said.
Castro said regardless of where he ends up he plans on carrying the skills soccer has given him.
“I’ve learned how to handle different personalities and I feel like the things I’ve learned in soccer are things from the real world. Some people will talk to me and say something isn’t fair but I say to them ‘Well, the real world isn’t fair either.’ Most importantly I will take away time management. Playing soccer has forced me to essentially plan out each week ahead of time,” Castro said.
Castro said he hopes other players will also take advantage of the opportunities soccer presents.
“I’m excited to see the future of this program, I am confident that I am leaving it in good hands of the underclassmen and coaches. I’m not worried about them at all, I think that they’ve seen all the tools it takes to win and go the next level. I’m excited to see where they go,” Castro said.