NEW YORK (AP) — Sergio Castillo had the identical dream just a few occasions yearly since sixth grade.
The New York Jets kicker is on the sector at a stadium when he seems to be into the stands and sees his mom and future girlfriend within the stands cheering him on.
Castillo by no means informed anybody about his repeated visions till he wrote two letters whereas flying to Kansas Metropolis for his second NFL recreation to play the Chiefs on Nov. 1.
One was to his mom, Maria Guadalupe Cáceres, and the opposite to his fiancée, Adriana Cavazos-Loya, who’s anticipating the couple’s first little one in January.
“The factor is, my girl was additionally pregnant in that dream,” Castillo mentioned in a phone interview. “I used to be like, what are the probabilities of that? After I wrote to them, my second dream was coming true. The primary one is the NFL and the second is that dream and so they had been going to look at me play in Kansas Metropolis. They had been like, how come you by no means informed us that? I informed them I needed to put it aside for a particular second when it truly occurred.”
And, there he was — on his thirtieth birthday, as well — kicking three discipline targets as his dream performed out in entrance of his mom and fiancée.
“It’s simply loopy,” Castillo mentioned, “how God works in His mysterious methods.”
Castillo made his NFL debut the week earlier than towards Buffalo, filling in for the injured Sam Ficken. As he walked off the sector after his first kick, a 29-yard discipline purpose, he may barely management his feelings.
“I teared up a bit as a result of I began reminiscing in regards to the six years it took me to get right here, you already know?” Castillo mentioned.
Castillo’s lengthy, winding NFL journey started in tiny La Joya, Texas, the place he was raised by “my 4 robust girls” — his mom, grandmother and two aunts. The primary-generation Mexican American went from the soccer and soccer fields within the Rio Grande Valley to Division II West Texas A&M, the one faculty to supply him a scholarship.
However, he almost walked away.
“I had by no means been round white folks,” he mentioned. “I had by no means been round Black folks. It was only a tradition shock. I suppose it was the primary time I confronted slightly little bit of discrimination, racism. And I informed my mother, I’m dropping out, I’m quitting.”
Castillo acquired a stern talking-to from certainly one of his childhood coaches — after which from his mom.
“She was like, ’Should you come residence, you’ll not have a house,’” he recalled. “She mentioned, ‘You mentioned you had been going to play ball. Now be a person and end what you mentioned what you had been going to do.’”
Castillo, certainly one of few Mexican Individuals to play within the NFL, has been engaged on that ever since.
“After I signed that letter of intent to play soccer in faculty, I used to be not simply signing for me,” he mentioned. “Sure, I’m dwelling my dream, however I needed to pave the best way for the long run generations, the long run Mexican Individuals that need to pursue this dream. I couldn’t simply stop then and there, you already know?
“It jogged my memory of why I used to be doing it.”
He went undrafted in 2014 out of West Texas A&M, however acquired a glance from the Atlanta Falcons — who already had Matt Bryant. Unable to beat out the veteran, Castillo was lower throughout coaching camp. So, he headed to San Antonio on the urging of a former coach and labored at Southside Excessive Faculty as a instructor’s aide and assistant coach.
He took the identical bus to work day-after-day: the No. 522 route that picked him up at 4:22 a.m. on the nook of Babcock and Wurzbach for the 1-hour, 24-minute commute. It was throughout these rides that his driver — Mr. Fulton — inspired him to arrange a “imaginative and prescient board” to focus his targets.
Castillo’s imaginative and prescient board features a image of a cross within the center. Within the 4 corners are: an image of two marriage ceremony rings and a cartoon with a number of folks at a desk that he titled “Castillo Household Reunion” to characterize the household he hopes to have; an image of himself and Bryant; the phrases “Principal Castillo” for his post-football aspirations; and inspirational quotes from the likes of Eric Thomas, Gary Vaynerchuk, Les Brown and Tony Robbins.
“Day by day once I awakened and the very last thing I noticed earlier than I went to mattress was that imaginative and prescient board,” Castillo mentioned. “It jogged my memory of the place I used to be going to go so I stored feeding my thoughts.”
He used it for motivation all through his varied stops within the CFL, XFL and Alliance of American Soccer. He wanted all of it eight occasions he was lower. Castillo used it once more whereas recovering from a torn ACL in 2017 that almost derailed his profession.
When the CFL canceled its season in August due to the coronavirus pandemic, Castillo was confronted with a troublesome resolution: stick together with his contract with the BC Lions with some wage and well being advantages, or choose out and attempt to pursue the NFL once more.
Castillo was sure his fiancée would inform him to remain put, particularly with a child on the best way. As a substitute, Cavazos-Loya stunned him.
“She mentioned: ‘You’re going to chase this dream,’” Castillo recalled. ”‘After I met you 4 1/2 years in the past, you mentioned you had been going to make it to the NFL. That is your probability.’
“That gave me the entire confidence on the planet to pursue this.”
Castillo labored out for the Jets earlier this season and his capacity to kick discipline targets and punt impressed particular groups coordinator Brant Boyer. Signed to the apply squad in October, Castillo was promoted to the energetic roster 10 days later when Ficken injured his groin. He went 6 for 7 on discipline targets — with the one miss a block — and 4 for 4 on further factors in three video games.
Ficken returned final Sunday, however missed two further factors and was positioned on injured reserve. So, Castillo’s NFL dream continues Sunday towards Miami.
“It’s nonetheless slightly surreal that I’m right here,” Castillo mentioned. “Folks have requested me how I’m feeling. I’m simply very grateful for the chance. The trail that it took me to get right here, six years, I wouldn’t need to change something about it.”
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