Aptos Excessive ladies soccer head coach Gina Castañeda was competing as she often does within the annual Neighborhood Well being Belief of Pajaro Valley softball match in late August to assist increase funds for youth non income.
Every part was high-quality till she was unintentionally punched within the stomach that compelled her to take a seat out the remainder of the sport.
Subsequent factor she is aware of, Castañeda was rushed to the hospital for what she thought was a fractured rib.
However the medical doctors discovered one thing within the CT scan that was much more alarming.
Just a bit greater than a month afterward Oct. 2, she was going below the knife at Stanford Well being Care to have a cancerous tumor from her left kidney eliminated. Castañeda is cancer-free however she nonetheless has to get scanned each six months.
“I used to be bedridden for not less than 4 weeks the place I couldn’t transfer, I couldn’t get away from bed, ended up taking a kidney and an entire bunch of different stuff,” she mentioned.
Castañeda was assured letting the teaching workers take over whereas she was recovering.
Nevertheless, she additionally felt like she was letting the crew down if the top of this system wasn’t round.
So, she acquired on a wheelchair and confirmed up for the primary day of tryouts.
Since then, the Mariners (10-3-1) have been taking part in some impressed soccer. They at present sit atop of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League standings with an unblemished 5-0 document in league play and en path to defend their league crown.
Alexa Castañeda leads the Mariners with 9 assists and is second on the crew with seven targets, according to statistics on the Monterey Bay Preps website.
The sophomore attacking midfielder had problem processing what it might be wish to play with out her mother by her facet, particularly as a result of Gina is the rationale Alexa performs the game.
“It was exhausting for me to see her in a lot ache, nevertheless it simply exhibits me how robust she is as a person as a result of she was on the market at tryouts barely capable of stroll,” Alexa Castañeda mentioned. “It’s simply exhibiting me I’ve to take this chance and he or she’s made me such an ideal soccer participant.”
Alexa Castañeda notched one purpose and a pair of assists of their 4-0 win over Harbor Excessive in SCCAL motion on Jan. 23, serving to maintain Aptos’ excellent league document intact.
“We’re taking it a sport at a time as a result of we all know each crew is gonna wish to beat us and each sport is gonna be exhausting for us,” she mentioned.
The senior class is made up of Ella Shoemaker, Peyton Westjohn, Angelique Nuñez, Kaitlyn Murphy and Ava Churchill.
“We simply have plenty of chemistry,” Shoemaker mentioned. “We do plenty of crew bonding too, which additionally helps us get actually shut. I believe that that actually exhibits on the sphere.”
Different playmakers embody juniors Anahi Macias and Alessandra Zuñiga, who has recorded 25 saves as goalkeeper for Aptos.
The underclassmen are led by sophomore goalkeeper Evelyn Pini and freshman sensation Isabella Hartnett—who has the nickname Canela [cinnamon] because of being red-haired.
Pini splits goalie duties with Zuñiga and has made 22 saves in entrance of the online, whereas Hartnett has been a scoring machine with a team-best 9 targets.
“I used to be actually nervous in my first sport as a result of everybody’s already performed collectively,” Hartnett mentioned. “I used to be simply studying how everybody performs and stuff. Now I sort of match into [the team].”
In 2022-23, Aptos completed with a 9-1 document in league play to seize the SCCAL title. They noticed their season come to an finish following a 2-1 loss to Branham Excessive within the Central Coast Part Division II quarterfinals.
Castañeda mentioned she failed as a coach by not getting ready the group emotionally for an enormous stage.
This season, Aptos focuses so much on being each emotionally and mentally robust. Castañeda gave a PowerPoint presentation to the gamers about how feminine athletes have a tendency to focus on the negatives as an alternative of the positives.
“I felt like final yr we targeted a lot on the errors we made that we by no means have been capable of develop previous what we did rather well,” she mentioned.
Castañeda took a web page from her personal e book of knowledge by studying learn how to keep mentally robust when it got here time to interrupt the information to her husband Patricio, son Dante and daughters Jazmin and Alexa, together with different relations, co-workers and the soccer crew.
Castañeda, who will flip 49 years previous in a few weeks, mentioned she was fortunate it was Stage 2 most cancers and radiation or chemotherapy was not required. She was initially scheduled for surgical procedure on Nov. 26 however the Stanford medical workers suggested her to get in sooner.
“I thought of my children, and that I didn’t wish to die,” she mentioned. “I didn’t wish to abandon them. I didn’t wish to go away them. After which I additionally felt the children that I coach, that’s an extension of my children, too. And I do know that plenty of these children look as much as me.
“I felt this drive to point out up and regardless that folks advised me ‘that you must handle your self,’ I don’t suppose folks perceive how impressed I’m by not simply my very own children, however the children that I coach, too.”
Castañeda—an Aptos alumna and a pillar locally—has been teaching among the present Mariners gamers since they have been 4 years previous.
She has gamers pick a theme music that can be utilized as a motivational software. For Castañeda, it’s Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now, or also referred to as the theme from the hit film “Rocky.”
(Cue the horns)
As for the crew, they selected the music Unstoppable performed by Sia. It appears becoming for each the Mariners and Castañeda.
Alexa Castañeda and her teammates noticed how difficult and aching it was for his or her head coach firstly of the season. She mentioned the crew felt that they had a task to play as a result of her mother was in a lot ache.
“We’re all a unit now as a result of all of us supported her,” Alexa Castañeda mentioned. “All of us went by means of the ups and downs along with her.”
The highway to restoration has been a distressing one for Castañeda and the one factor inspiring her to get away from bed is being on the pitch.
“This season, it’s so much to me. It additionally has given me one other outlook,” Castañeda mentioned. “I’ve all the time been very appreciative, nevertheless it’s simply totally different. I need the women to not simply be champions, however whether or not they win or they lose, I need them to be fighters.”
Castañeda emphasizes to the crew that when the world tells them they will’t do one thing, they should consider that they will.
“It’s been superb for me and as devoted as I’m to them, they’re to their faculty and this system. That’s why we’re doing in addition to we’re doing,” she mentioned.