Amy Beck / Special to the Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 | 8:38 p.m.
Dave Castro’s love for the football players he mentored helped the veteran educator become one of the Las Vegas Valley’s most respected high school coaches.
While that love was often disguised in the form of a stern lecture on the sideline each Friday night, Castro’s hard-nosed style always motivated his players to perform their best and created a special bond between coach and student.
Castro, Palo Verde's defensive coordinator the past four years, was found dead Saturday morning at his Henderson home, Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. He was 54.
The cause of death could not immediately be confirmed.
Less than 10 hours earlier, he was on the sideline for the Panthers 55-21 victory against Arbor View.
“It was shocking news for us,” Rost said. “God, it was just out of the blue.”
Castro is remembered as someone who always got the most out of his players — usually employing his tough-love philosophy.
“Some time you need that type of coach who is always in your face,” said Tyrone Blake, a Palo Verde senior who has been part of Castro’s defense since he was a freshman.
“I have grown so fond of him the last four years. He and coach Rost are like fathers outside of my home,” he said.
Palo Verde was scheduled to watch film this morning but, instead, most of the team went to Castro’s Green Valley area home to visit with his family.
His oldest son, Dave Castro Jr., started at linebacker last year for Palo Verde’s team that won the Sunset Region and finished 14-1. His youngest son, Jake Castro, is a sophomore on Palo Verde’s junior varsity team.
“Dave had that rough edge about him, but he also had the biggest heart,” Rost said. “The kids loved playing hard for him. He had a soft spot in his heart for all kids.”
Castro, a California native, played college football at Southern Utah and moved to Southern Nevada in the early 1980s.
He did his student teaching at Chaparral, then had stops at Bonanza, Valley, Clark, Green Valley and Durango as an assistant coach. He was Eldorado’s head coach two seasons, in the early 2000s.
He helped Palo Verde win the Sunset title in 2006 and 2008.
“He knew how to pump up the kids,” Rost said. “He was stern with them, but always fair. He was just one of those old-school coaches who always got the kids to work hard for him.”
Blake, Palo Verde’s captain, addressed the team during an early morning meeting. While Castro has helped transform Blake into a major Division I recruit, it was contributions to his personal life that stand out.
“This is such a hard loss for me,” Blake said. “He has helped me so much in my personal life over the years. He was a great man.”
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].