Photo Credit: De Castro Goaltending Website
Jon De Castro is a man of many talents. He is the new program director for CPH hockey and goaltending coach for the Charlotte Rush and Columbia Infantry. First we talked about the the New York City native growing up around the game and the New York Rangers.
“The New York Rangers have been blessed to pretty consistently ( for when he’s seen them) with great goalies, when I was really young line 4-5 year’s old id find my way into the rangers practice, it turns out the guy that gave me the puck that day was John Vanbiesbrouck, if it wasn’t for Beezer I wouldn’t be a goalie. The position calls you.”
From early on, De Castro showed that he wanted to be in the game, even if his playing time ended when his time in highschool ended. As he said, “ I never played at a high-level. I never played at high-level beyond varsity level hockey.”His mom encouraged him to look at coaching early on. “She encouraged me to volunteer and give back. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of development from art to being a goalie.”
After being an agent in the music field he got back into a rink in the summer of 2010. that summer was the first time in five years that he’d been back in a rink. He developed a hockey program for the Philipine National team in 2017. He knew the head coaching role gig was not permanent. He helped build a program and that program has stuck with him. In addition to all of the other things he does, he helps with the Selects program to help develop top junior talent in the Phillipines to be ready to play at the senior level. He said “ I really wanted to find a way to expand my portfolio, to find talent in all shapes and sizes, being able to build that culture you want. That’s when Ryan approached me.” In the long run De Castro, as a proud Phillipine American, wants to help the game of ice hockey grow in the Phillipines and help the national teams continue to improve.
He is involved as he can be with roster development and recruiting. In the long run he said “I really want to be involved in a management role.” He is hoping to bring players from the Philippines over to play for the Rush and Infantry and form a long term partnership. “If I can find a way for any person of color to move up in this sport, it’s something I’m really passionate about.”
He’s getting the experience to build a resume to be a general manager at the NHL. Part of that experience has come from his time with Brian Idalski who helped mentor him and put Jon in a better spot to he ready for the three roles he is taking on. Jon talked about the relationships and the challenge hes gotten from each mentor in finding different ways to be more creative. De Castro learned from Idalski about the balance between work and personal life, what it means to have a culture and implement it, and much more. He was a sponge with the Vanke Rays program and a big part of their success. Idalski’s advice has helped De Castro move forward.
That being a sponge started Jon on the path to the goaltending camp in Florida where him and Cruthers started talking. That got things working forward to the next level. Cruthers circled back a few weeks ago and the role was still there.
Jon also talked at length about the work of Dave Starman as a mentor for him. Jon said that “ Dave Starman was one of the first people to believe in me.”When Jon was hired by the long island royals in 2015 he acknowledges that Dave took a chance on him. “Starman helped me figure out how to develop an effective goaltending practice program. He took such good care of me throughout all of this. He endorsed everything I’ve done.”
Off the ice, De Castro likes food and comfort. We ask a lot of players and coaches whatbrheir last meal would be because it tells us about what that person values, their things they want off the ice and what gives them comfort. For De Castro he had a lot of good choices but focused on Chicken Adobo. As he said “chicken adobo, that’s one of those meals that my wife says when I ask for that “you’ve had a hard day huh”. It takes me back to when I was four or five watching Rangers games.”
Although he is considered the goalie coach for the USPHL teams owned by Ryan Cruthers’ ownership group, Jon is helping wherever he has been asked to. His experience building the Philippine National team and their selects program has him able to give more context on Carlo Tigaronita, Infantry defender.
He said that “ Carlo is just a kid that really wanted it and has a really soft gentle personality but underneath all that is an animal.” Jon helped him transition into being a defenseman for the Phillipines because of his string shot and it’s worked out. “This whole experience for him is going to make him a really good prospect.”
For now, De Castro is coming up with practice plans for all Rush and Infantry goalies based on what he sees in game play. He’s adjusting to relay info and notes as needed.
Finally his role at Carolina Premier Hockey as a director was discussed. He is the face at the rink that people can talk to and provide development for. He praised the open relationship the staff has with parents in trying to provide the best for all playing hockey. The role is a blank canvas for him. He is also working to have CPH be a, as he said “go to goalie factory in the southeast, and to make sure everyone who walks through the door and puts on a CPH jersey gets a second to none experience.”
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