Casteleyn is GWHS athlete of year |

Casteleyn is GWHS athlete of year

Michael Traum

Chris Casteleyn is an athlete who, much like the Hale-Bopp comet, is a momentary streak in time that will leave an everlasting impression on those who saw him.

Captain and quarterback of the football team, Nevada’s leading high school basketball scorer and the state’s seventh-best golfer, the Warrior senior is literally a shooting star.

For his athletic excellence and uncanny leadership ability, Casteleyn is the 1997 Tribune Male Athlete of the Year at Whittell High.

“It’s a great honor to be considered the best athlete. We have quite a few guys at our school who have to play many sports,” he said. “(Playing) is what drove me in high school. Each day I’d look forward to ending the day with sports.”

Casteleyn’s performance statistics only begin to tell the tale, when searching to fully understand his athletic impact at the small 3A school.

He led the Warriors undermanned, overachieving football team to the state quarterfinals, finally losing to a stacked Fernley squad on a bitter cold late November evening. Casteleyn, who collected more than 1,400 yards of total offense and played defensive back, was selected the division’s first-team kicker, second-team quarterback and second-team punter. He lost the MVP nod by just one vote.

But the numbers only quantify his physical output. On the mental side, Casteleyn was a coach’s player and a pure leader of peers.

“How many good things can you say about Chris?” said Whittell football coach Butch Cattanach. “It’s always hard to replace players, but this could be the hardest. He’s one of those guys I’ll keep in my memory banks as long as I live.

“He’ll be remembered for his leadership ability and intelligence. Every kid looked up to him. If there ever was a problem, Chris would get us through.”

In hoops, Casteleyn was again the do-all. Not only were his 27 points per game tops among all Nevada high school players, the guard fully earned the division MVP award with his court generalship. Second-year coach Steve Maltase knowingly acknowledges the void that will be left behind.

“He was always the best player on the court and the glue that kept everyone together. Whatever we needed, we could go to him,” Maltase said. “He was a dominant force. But never once did I consider him a selfish player, although he definitely had the right to be. Guys like him don’t come along very often.”

The hoops notoriety that Casteleyn collected would’ve gladly been traded for the chance to play in the state tournament. But his three-year varsity stint was marked by teams that toiled to stay respectable and never once made it to the state playoffs.

Despite all of his phenomenal outings, not going to state simply plagues Casteleyn. He even considered the growing trend of transferring to a 4A school, having checked out a few open gymnasium sessions at Carson High.

But loyalty to his school, a notion often discarded in the pursuit of personal athletic improvement, convinced the all-star to stay home.

“In any sport, you’re only as good as your competition. I’m not sure if the skill level would’ve been better (in 4A), but the intensity difference is night and day,” he said. “I’d loved a shot out there, but I started at Whittell and have friends here. I didn’t want to abandon them or the school. I owed it to them to stay.”

As the chilly memories of another losing basketball season began to melt away with the springtime thaw, Casteleyn’s last and perhaps best chance for a state title was ready to tee off.

Coming off last year’s second-best individual performance at the state finals (an award that Casteleyn earned but never received because he signed a scorecard that was incorrectly totaled by his playing partner, thus disqualifying him), the ’97 golf season was teaming with possibility.

Not only was Casteleyn capable of firing scores in the high 70s, but a solid tribe of stick-wielding Warriors surrounded him. As a group, it was easy to elect a preseason goal of finishing as the state champs.

And that premonition nearly came through. Whittell won the division title, with Casteleyn averaging just 80 cuts in more than 10 team outings.

But the highest of expectations were greeted with the lowest of outputs, as the Warriors limped away from the state playoffs as only the fifth-best team. Casteleyn was the No. 7 individual.

Still, even in stomach-turning defeat, the division’s golfing MVP takes valuable lessons from his final sports season.

“This year was way disappointing (the way it ended). We played terrible, that’s all there is to it,” he said. “But you’ve got to be solid the whole time and play well. The only pressure there really is is that if you’re not out there, you can’t win.”

So as Casteleyn’s high school career comes to an end – years by which future Warriors will mark their successes and failures, their athletic ability and their claims to greatness – an unmistakable streak across the Zephyr Cove landscape bleeds red and gold for a fine young man and extra-special athlete.

“You don’t have to be unbelievably talented to go out and have fun and play to win. You’ve just got to be willing to do whatever it takes,” Casteleyn said. “Saying goodbye to high school sports is very difficult. To be with your friends, having a chance to win … I really take that to heart.”

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