Daniel Castillo is a pitcher for the Prairie View A&M Panthers baseball team. He is in his senior year and will be graduating this year. He is one of the closers on the team, the pitcher who finishes out the game. I’ve known him all his life as he happens to be my brother. I wanted to ask him about playing sports at the university level since the rest of the world doesn’t really have this same system and I think some people will find it interesting. Also, he’s my brother, and our mom made me.
1) We’ll talk baseball first. You’ve just started the 2012 Season, what are your team’s expectations and what are your personal expectations for the season?
Well, first goal is to take first in the regular season for our conference. Once we do that we would have a first round bye in the conference tournament and our goal would be to win that as well. As a senior I would like to go out on top and would do anything to get there. I have a quite a few personal goals, some having to do with stats and others are just things I would like to accomplish. Some of my statistical goals are to have below a 2.00 ERA, have less than one walk per 9 innings pitched and to lead the conference in saves. I also want to win reliever of the year for our conference and I would like to get drafted and have a chance to further my playing career.
2) What is life like for a student athlete? How much time is invested in school and how much time is invested in sports?
I love being a student athlete and would not want it any other way. I would have way too much free time if I was just a student, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. As far as how much time I have to invest in school, it’s pretty easy. I’ll put maybe an hour a night in at the most unless I have a test coming up then I’ll spend a little more time reading the book and my notes. If I was not playing a sport I would not like how easy my classes are because I like to be challenged by my classes but since I’m always busy with baseball it makes everything a lot easier. For baseball our practices are pretty easy. Our practices usually run about two and a half hours. Then a half hour of weights. Our actual practices are the easy part. I get to practice an hour and a half to two hours early every day to get in my early work. When I get there early I’m mainly working on things that I know I need to get better at since I won’t get to work on it that much at practice. Then after practice I go home and eat real quick. Then I drive to the gym and get in my own workout because I don’t think our weight program challenges me enough. I’m usually there for two more hours. By the time I get home it’s already time for me to go to sleep and start the routine all over again.
3) Is there an offseason training program as well?
Over the summer I make my own offseason training routine consisting of a lot of weight training, running (both sprints and long distance), plyometrics, and long toss. Once I get to school in the fall we pretty much start regular practices with a little more running than usual. Since our offseason training doesn’t focus much on getting stronger or improving arm strength I have to do that on my own. In the fall I would get to school at 6:30 am before my first class and play long toss with one of the guys on the team and then after practice I would go to the gym with 3 other guys on the team and we would workout for 2-3 hours.
4) You must have absolutely no spare time. What do you do with it? Is being at university just like in the movies? Are there frat parties
I very rarely have free time during season because Mondays are our day off. On Monday I go golfing and relax. Other than that I don’t do much at all. I don’t think that its anything at all like in the movies. There are parties but I don’t go to them. I don’t drink, especially during season.
5) What is the whole recruiting process like for an athlete coming out of high school?
It’s pretty simple. You can go to showcases at the universities you want to go to and if you do well at them, they will send someone to watch you. From there they will talk to your coach and he will put them in contact with you. You will then get an offer from them. Then you can accept whatever offer they make you and sign a letter of commitment to go there.
6) Why did you chose to go to Prairie View A&M?
I chose to go to PVAMU because it was the only division 1 offer that I got and my goal has always been to play for a division 1 baseball program. I got offers from some division 2 and NAIA schools that offered close to the same amount of money but I chose Prairie View because it was division one.
7) Prairie View is a historically black college…what does that mean? Is there a lot of pride in that at the school?
That means that when Prairie View first opened it was for the education of blacks. It is still predominantly black but there are more non-blacks there now than in the past. There is a lot of pride in going to the school especially from the teachers and older alumni. But it seems like a lot of the students are here because this is where their parents graduated from. This is the only place I know of where it seems like a majority of the people that go to school there go home on weekends.
8) What’s it like not being black at Prairie View? Is there any racism toward non-black students? Does your team encounter any racism from the ‘white’ teams you play or their fans?
Its definitely different from any other school I’ve been to. There is not much racism from anyone here. The only thing that you notice is in certain classes. In our History classes more time is spent on slavery. Much of the criminal justice classes are about discrimination against African Americans. I have not noticed any racism from any of the fans or other reams that we have played.
9) Recently your team played in the Urban Invitational for black schools, which was a major showcase for these universities. Explain a little about that if you would. Was it exciting?
The main goal of the Urban Invitational is to give historically black colleges some spotlight. For the most part they do not get any national attention. So this is the only time most of these teams will play on national television. Also the Urban Invitational’s aim is to get the word out about the Urban Youth Academywhich is a program of the MLB for inner city youths.
10) What’s it like to move to a state that you’ve never been to before? Going from California to the South is a big difference culturally (as far as within the US is concerned). What’s it like there?
It’s definitely a big adjustment. It wasn’t so much the cultural differences that I needed to adjust to it was the difference in weather that was the hardest. It’s so much hotter and humid here than it is in California 85 degrees feels like 95. The one thing that’s different culturally there is that pretty much everyone here is more polite. But other than that it’s not too different from California.
11) Anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t have much else to say other than if you are an aspiring athlete to always chase your dream. Don’t ever give up. When I was younger I was never the fastest or most talented person on my team but I always put in the extra work and its got me to where I am today. If you work hard you will achieve your goals.