By Luke Ottinger
On Friday, July 13, high school football lost one of its cornerstones. Arizona High School Hall of Fame coach Frank Castro passed away after 60 years of coaching. Castro had stints at Marcos de Niza and Corona del Sol high schools in Tempe and Seton Catholic in West Chandler
Known simply as “Coach” by those who worked with and for him, Castro made his mark not just on Arizona high school football but locally as a leader, mentor and, to many, a friend.
Castro was inducted into the Arizona High School Athletic Association Coaches’ Hall of Fame in 1994 as well as into the National Hispanic Hall of Fame for his service. He was the head football coach for eight seasons at Marcos in the ‘80s and became the offensive coordinator for Tim McBurney at Tempe High in the early 1990s after his head coaching career at Marcos de Niza ended.
He also coached three seasons at Bagdad High School, where he had played defensive end on the Sultans’ 1952 championship football team.
Castro also had a brief stint at Parker, where he coached high school baseball, leading his team to an 18-0 season and earning recognition as the state runner-up.
“I first met Frank while he coached baseball at Parker and I played for Bagdad,” said longtime friend Gary Dykman.
“I always admired his coaching, even as a young high school opponent. I’ve never known anyone so dedicated to his coaching and his players as Coach Castro…so many lives have been touched by Frank; we all mourn his passing but are so thankful for his presence in our lives.”
One of Frank’s major priorities was his family.
I spoke with Castro’s daughter Enedina, who recounted the impact her father had on Arizona high school football and, in particular, on his students and players.
“There are many past players and students that have reached out to us since his passing, just to let us know how much my dad did for them during his time as their coach and teacher…He was loved by so many,” Enedina said.
“He loved what he did and was proud to see his players and students succeed. We didn’t have a lot, but we always had each other. Friday night lights meant a lot to us kids.
“As the Arizona high school football season moves forward, former players, assistant coaches and athletic directors tend to look back at those who inspired them and mold them into the players, coaches and leaders they always aspired to be.”
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said he didn’t know him personally but acknowledges the impact coaches like Castro have on young people.
“I appreciate all the coaches who inspire our youth. I was very fortunate to have had the best coaches when I played football and baseball at McClintock,” Mitchell said.
“I respect and admire how coaches influence our youth for years to come. I’m very fortunate to have had the best coaches in high school.”
Frank Castro left a lasting, sizeable footprint on Arizona high school football, maybe even more so on the Tempe area. As both a player and as a coach, Castro’s memory will live on through stories, memories and his achievements.
Our communities will dearly miss you, Frank Castro.