Every now and then I talk about some other sport in this blog and this post is going to cover three: football, swimming and wrestling and one extraordinary young man who played all three at his high school.
I read about Anthony Castro this morning on Towleroad (here’s the full Towleroad article) in an obituary. He passed away January 21 as the result of a car accident. He was 19 years old.
Anthony was just accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA. Before that he was an openly gay student at Banning High School in Banning, California, a town about 85 miles east of Los Angeles. He came out when he was a sophomore and managed to overcome all the issues at the school to be a leader in all three sports, sever on the yearbook committee and be an all-around popular student.
It wasn’t always easy for him. In a tribute to Anthony on ESPN.com, columnist LZ Granderson recounts this story: “He caught a lot of crap over the first six to nine months after coming out,” says Phil Takacs, a Banning High counselor. “Sometimes he would come to my office and ask if he could just spend the rest of the day there. He would say that he couldn’t take being called ‘faggot’ any more today and just needed a break. He even thought about quitting sports. But over time, Anthony just got tired of the other kids making him feel bad for who he was.
“One day he was in practice and one of the other wrestlers was giving him a bunch of crap about being gay. Anthony looked at the kid and said ‘You have a problem with me; why don’t we take this to the mat?’ This guy wrestled in the heaviest division, but Anthony pinned him in less than 30 seconds. That guy never said anything else again.”
It’s really amazing to have that confidence in yourself at that age to live with who you are. As you read the ESPN tribute and the tribute at Outsports.com, you get the sense of what an amazing person Anthony was and what an amazing person he would continue to be as he grew up.
We can only hope that his courage and dignity will allow more people (young and old) to stand up and embrace who they are, to allow them to come out and lead a full and happy life. I can’t imagine coming out when I was a sophomore in an Alabama high school back in the mid-80s. From what I read Banning is also a small, rather conservative town so I can’t imagine the choice Anthony made to come out was an easy one.
Anyway, the point of the post is to put Anthony’s story in front of the audience that reads this blog too so that it lives on a little bit further. We should all aspire to carry ourselves through life with the same integrity and honesty that Anthony did. I think the world would be a better place if that could happen.