By Tom Brown
For most Benedictine University student athletes, their sport takes up a huge chunk of their time. With everything from practices, to games, to travel times and meetings, many of student athletes start to think of their sport as a full time job.
Former BenU student athlete Izzy Castro, the sport of soccer actually is a job for him, as the former mid-center for the Eagles is now playing professional soccer in Reynosa, Mexico as part of the Mexican International league.
Castro who played three years at BenU accepted a one year contract with Reynosa just two weeks before the fall semester began.
“It was a big opportunity for me,” said the now 22 year old native of West Chicago. This isn’t anything new to Castro as this is the 3rd time he has been contacted by a professional team.
“I was contacted when I was 16 and when I was 18 but I had to pass up both opportunities because my mom wanted me to continue with my education,” Castro said.
The third opportunity was just too much to pass up for Castro. “I’m getting older now, so I had to make a decision about my future and this seemed like a great chance for me,” he said.
Castro accepted this contract with the promise to his mom that he would not forget to finish college, where he is working towards getting a degree in international business and a minor in Spanish.
“My mom has always been supportive of me and whatever I do so I owe it to her to keep my end of the bargain,” said Castro.
Castro, who is currently nursing a knee injury came back to the states this week for a few days to rehab his injury as well as begin the process of selecting a new agent, was excited to see his old friends and family.
“I missed my family so much. Obviously, I’m in a different country so communicating with them is very hard.”
In addition to his family Castro also was able to see his “second family,” the men’s soccer team. “It was cool to see the guys,” Castro said. “I have been following their season, so it was nice to talk with them about the team.”
The team that Castro left has won two games in a row, but started out the season in a rough patch losing their first six games, which is something that Castro feels he could have helped prevent.
“I definitely feel like I would have made a difference here.” Castro said. “I would have been a major part of the team, but at the end of the day it was too big of an opportunity for me to pass up.”
Castro notes that there are some major differences between the Mexican International League and Northern Athletic Conference soccer.
“First off you are getting paid,” Castro said when asked about the differences. “Since we are getting paid that means that our performance is constantly being reviewed and we are threatened with being sold at any point.”
The Mexican International League allows players to be sold to other teams throughout their contracts, but this is something that doesn’t seem to bother Castro.
“I am confident in my abilities and I know that if I stay healthy and do all the right things then I will be in a good position.”
Castro says he plans to use his stint in the Mexican International League as a stepping stone to a possible career in the MLS.
“Playing in the MLS has always been a dream of mine,” Castro said. “It has the opportunity to open a lot of doors for me.”
Castro would like to finish his education at BenU if he has the opportunity and says that his experience as an Eagle was a great one and he hopes to be an influential story for the current student athletes here.
“Just because you play d3 doesn’t mean you can’t play professionally,” Castro said. “If you follow your dream and work hard you can do whatever you set your mind to.”