Sports Person of the Week
Castro Enjoys Four Seasons Starting on Defense
Alex Castro became a starting defender for the Yellowjackets as a freshman and has been a member of the lineup for the past four years. (Photo courtesy of Alex Castro)
Alex Castro has been a starting varsity defender for the East Haven girls’ soccer team since her first day of high school. As she continued improving as a defender, Alex found that playing soccer for the Easties boosted her confidence both on and off the field.
Alex, a senior, started playing soccer in East Haven’s youth league after receiving encouragement from her father. Alex had previously participated in swimming, dance, and tennis and, at first, soccer seemed like just another sport. However, after playing a few games, Alex realized that she was meant to be on the soccer pitch.
“He was really supportive throughout my whole journey. He got me involved in clinics, which helped me practice more. I got to interact with many different people,” says Alex of her father. “It didn’t automatically click. I didn’t want to do it. But after a couple games, within one or two years, I realized I loved playing soccer.”
Alex continued playing in East Haven’s youth league until the 7th grade, when she joined the South Central Premier program. In addition to playing Premier, Alex learned a lot about the sport from her cousin Bryan. Up until this point, Alex had played outside midfielder. However, once she joined South Central, Alex switched to defense and has been there ever since.
“Playing defense, there’s a lot of pressure. You’re right next to the goal,” Alex says. “But once you get the motivation to get the ball and bring it up to your teammates, I get excited. I get to do a lot of things. You get to help everybody.”
During her time with East Haven’s town league and South Central, Alex was living in New Haven. She moved to East Haven prior to her freshman year. As soon as she stepped on the field for the Yellowjackets, Alex was in the varsity lineup as one of the club’s starting defenders.
“It was something I never imagined me doing,” Alex says of playing high school soccer. “When you’re younger, it’s a fun game and everything, but once you get to high school, it’s more competitive. You want to win more. It makes you want to work harder than you originally did.”
While she was happy to be a starter, Alex still had to deal with the challenge of playing against older competition in a new town. With the help of teammates like Emily Mazzucco, Emily Pycela, and Jocelyn Lucero, who were freshman alongside her, as well as the older athletes, Alex started to find her footing at the varsity level.
“It was overwhelming. I was a freshman. I was new to the school. I didn’t know anybody except for the girls who played East Haven youth soccer. I didn’t know what to do at times,” says Alex. “But the upperclassmen helped me to get the courage. They all told me how great it was that a freshman was in the varsity lineup.”
Alex has maintained her starting role all the way through her senior year. This season, she helped the Yellowjackets earn a berth in the Class L State Tournament. Alex appreciates how she’s grown as both a player and a person during her four years with the program.
“As a freshman, I was overthinking everything. I thought negatively about myself. I didn’t think I should have been on the team,” Alex says. “Now, I’m more confident. The person I am right now is more positive. I take out the negative thoughts about myself and focus on the good.”
Head Coach Jake Hackett saw Alex’s potential when he put her in the starting lineup as a freshman. Hackett says that Alex has shown continual improvement on defense through the ensuing years, while bringing intensity and a strong work ethic to each practice and every game.
“Alex has been a stalwart defender for four years. She has been one of the hardest workers to ever put on an East Haven jersey,” says Hackett. “Alex has exceeded all expectations. She is one of the best teammates you could ask for. You wish you had a whole team of Alex Castros.”
After graduation, Alex plans on pursuing a degree in the medical field. She is considering playing at collegiate level and has reached out to several college coaches.
For the past four seasons, Alex has been a defensive presence for the East Haven girls’ soccer squad. As she closes out her time out with the program, Alex says playing soccer has only made her stronger, and that she’s glad she became a Yellowjacket.
“It has made me stronger and more confident,” Alex says. “There’s a lot of good girls on the team. I’m amazed when they play. They have a lot of dedication and motivation. I’m happy to be a part of this team.”