Coach, student and community member

PHOTO BY WILL BARNETT/THE PIONEER

By Will Barnett, CONTRIBUTOR

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Life as a student for many involves working and studying at the same time. For Mario Castellanos, it involves being an NCAA coach, graduate student, and pillar of his church in his local community in Union City, Calif.
This season, Castellanos will enter his tenth year as the assistant coach of the California State University, East Bay Men’s and Women’s Golf teams while finishing his Masters degree in Public Administration with a focus in Public Policy.
Growing up in Union City, Castellanos always wanted to attend CSUEB to play golf. Little did he know that he would become an assistant coach.
“When I graduated with my undergraduate Bachelors degree in Business Administration, I really didn’t have anything lined up,” said Castellanos in an interview. “Coach Sue asked me if I wanted to come back on as a volunteer, which I did, and later our assistant coach found another opportunity and I was able to fill his place.”
Castellanos believes that the most satisfying part of coaching is not being part of a sport he loves, but helping student-athletes develop as people.
“It gives me tremendous satisfaction to know that I can make some contribution to helping our student-athletes grow as people and reach new levels of self-understanding.”
CSUEB senior golfer, Max Murai has been fortunate enough to have Castellanos as one of his coaches for the last four years.
“Mario is always supportive of what we are doing,” said Murai. “He helps with the technical aspect of the game but his best quality I think is his ability to help us believe in ourselves and make sure we bring a positive attitude to practice or a tournament.”
Like many other students, Castellanos has to balance school with work. For many, this involves part-time jobs. However, Castellanos must also deal with the required travel with teams to tournaments and mandatory practice sessions along with all the office work that comes with the job.
“I try to manage my time as effectively as possible and I would say the most important skill to get that done and to stay on top of everything is planning. My job requires a lot of traveling and not many days off during the in-season periods, but our student-athletes have to do the same with their schoolwork,” said Castellanos.
Not only is Castellanos a student and coach, but he is also a pillar in his church, Our Lady Rosary in Union City, Calif. Castellanos works as a parishioner, helping youth groups and community events that the church holds.
Castellanos believes that his work in the church helps keep him grounded so that he doesn’t forget where he came from.
“The church helps me to feed my desires to keep myself grounded and nourished spiritually and to also give back to and help my local community.”
Don Marquez, a member of Our Lady Rosary Church has known Castellanos for over 10 years now and speaks highly of him, in particular, his willingness to put others before himself.
“Mario is warm and compassionate,” said Marquez. “He appeals to all people, regardless of age, gender, race, or religion. He has a generous heart. If he says he will do something, he will do it.”
From the way he presents himself, it appears that Castellanos’ greatest asset as a coach is also his greatest asset as a person. His willingness and commitment to help others improve in both their sport and their lives.
Whilst balancing coaching, being a student, and a member of his church can be tough for Castellanos, it seems as though Castellanos has made the most of his opportunities in whatever part of his life that they are presented to him. One would think that not only will Castellanos
thrive under these circumstances but also help others around him do the same.