SPORTS: What Now?

Members of the athletic community reflect on their options after high school

Much of the youth involved in sports aspire to be professional athletes at some point in their lives. These dreams, however, are often cut short, leaving many with yearns to still make an impact in the sports world in ways alternative to playing at a collegiate or professional level.

Growing up, SCHS physical education teacher and coach Adrian Castillo played a wide variety of sports including baseball, soccer, football, wrestling and basketball. Once in high school, he narrowed it down to football, wrestling and track and field. As a child, he always dreamed of playing a professional sport, but during his time at Palo Alto High School, he realized that playing at the next level was not in his future though he still wanted to make an impact.

“I wanted to continue being part of the sports world and contribute and give back to the community, so I decided to pursue coaching instead,” Castillo said.

Although the decision was difficult, Castillo looked to adults in his life for advice. His football coach, high school friends and his parents were ultimately the ones who helped him to decide what to do in life.

“It was hard, obviously, making the shift of kind of accepting that I wouldn’t be playing sports anymore,” Castillo said. “But I am happy to have the alternative to still be participating in sports and give back to them.”

Varsity soccer player senior Emma Coelho will be attending West Valley Community College in the fall of 2023, hoping to transfer to a Division I program in the future. There, she looks to continue her soccer career as well as study a sports-related field.

“I am thinking of going into sports medicine like kinesiology, maybe being a trainer for a professional team, or even just going into sports business,” Coelho said. “But, obviously, I will look at Stanford or Oregon soccer because that is a really big dream of mine.”

Similar to Castillo, Coelho expressed she looks up to the adult role models in her life, which includes her older sister. Since they both grew up playing soccer, Coelho felt like her sister pushed her to be her best and fulfill her potential. Coelho credited her sister and her parents to be the main reason she is pursuing her dreams and doing the things that she enjoys and loves.

“I’ve always looked up to her,” Coelho said. “She’s also my high school coach, so she’s always been here for me. She helps me grow as a player. She’s always supporting me. She’s always there for me at games and practices. I feel like she’s always pushing me to be a better person.”

Additionally, Coelho’s club soccer coach in middle school has also had a positive impact on her life.

“He helped me be the player I am today with learning new things and stepping out of my comfort zones,” Coelho said.

If Coelho’s dream of professional soccer does not work out, she still has aspirations to get her master’s degree and smoothly transition into adulthood. She recommended fellow high school athletes to follow their passions, even if it means not continuing sports in the future.

“I always tell them to continue doing what they’re doing, enjoy it,” Coelho said. “I just want them to make sure that they’re doing what they love and not feel forced to do it.”

After high school, Castillo had to decide between working a job or playing sports while he went to college. He ultimately chose the path of working as a college student in order to pay bills, but if given another chance, Castillo would have tried to continue his athletic career.

“If I were to go back again, I would have tried to stick with the sports and play for as long as I can,” Castillo said. “Especially with football, there’s not many opportunities to play after high school, especially organizing it. Try to ride it out as long as you can.”

For the majority of his work career, Castillo has been in the education field. Due to his relationship with athletic director Nelson Gifford, Castillo was made aware of an opening in SCHS’s physical education department. Once accepted into the position, he has never looked back.

“I love my job,” Castillo said. “I love working with the kids. I love working with the staff. Our P.E. department is pretty chill for people, and we support each other very well. So it’s just overall a good environment.”

Alongside his position as a P.E. teacher, Castillo also fulfills the role of assistant varsity football coach and head JV boys volleyball coach. In the future, Castillo hopes to become the head football coach, but most importantly, become a mentor and leader for the athletes on campus.

“I feel like I provide students a safe space but also an opportunity to grow and find their potential,” Castillo said. “That’s the ultimate goal for me as a coach. I want to make sure that students get that social aspect of being together on the team as well as challenging themselves physically.”