Win and inspire are Destiny Castro's goals for Guam at Pacific Games
HAGATNA (Guam) - According to Destiny Castro, it was "a combination of the versatility the game instills in a player and the physicality and mental toughness it takes to succeed" that got her hooked on the game of basketball.
"All I hope to do is inspire the next generation to work hard and chase their goals, whether that be on or off the court."
Considering the way she plays and carries herself, that is probably it. But maybe, it was just, well, destiny.
"My mom put me in the sport when I was 9," said Castro. "Although I played different sports through high school, there was something about basketball that made it my favorite."
She made sure to show everyone that it was her favorite sport as well, quickly excelling at the game to a certain level. Castro started playing for the national team when she was "around 14-15" and by the time she turned 17, she played in her first FIBA competition at the U18 Oceania Championship. That run resulted in a bronze medal for Guam with Castro averaging 21.0 points and 10.8 assists per game.
No more than a year later, she was already playing for the senior national team for the first time, suiting up for Guam in her first Pacific Games in 2015. One month before her 18th birthday in her first major competition, Castro averaged a cool 26.7 points per game.
Guam weren't able to make it past the Group Phase, but Castro made it clear that she was not going to back down and was going to be a player everyone would have to keep their eyes on.
And that was only the beginning.
The 1.68M (5'6") guard went on to have an illustrious collegiate career playing for the Chaminade Silverswords, holding on to 23 career, single-season, and single-game records for the school - namely being the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,648 points.
However, putting on that Guam national team jersey always seemed to be where she shined brightest - which is exactly what she did in 2019 in her second Pacific Games appearance. Castro's scoring saw a dip as she averaged 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 4.0 steals in 32 minutes per game, but it earned her a spot on the competition's All-Star Five.
Fast forward another four years and here we are again with Castro preparing to suit up for a third time.
Destiny arrives all the same.
"It's an honor to be able to represent Guam. Although this is my third time playing in the Pacific Games, the privilege I feel wearing Guam across my chest never gets old," Castro proudly said.
More important than her individual accomplishments in Pacific Games 2019 was Guam's result in the Final Standing. They weren't able to get a medal as Castro had hoped for but they did make it to the Semi-Finals, the first time for the program in the 21st century and only fifth time overall.
The progress made is quite clear to see, as clear as the target set for the upcoming games in the Solomon Islands.
"In the past decade specifically, being able to see the growth of basketball on the island and in the Pacific Games as a whole has been great.
"The goal is always to win it all. I am just hoping that we'll be able to come together as a team and play our best basketball. And hopefully, that leads to the result we want."
To achieve that goal means there is a lot of responsibility for Castro to shoulder. But it's not something that she doesn't expect and is more than willing to take on.
"I'm grateful for the opportunities Guam has given me to play the game that I love. The island and its people made me the player I am and I can only hope to give back through my performance and being the player that my team needs me to be.
"Of course, there's always pressure. But it's a good type of pressure that makes me want to play my best and be the best version of myself because I know other people might be watching. All I hope to do is inspire the next generation to work hard and chase their goals, whether that be on or off the court."
Because that is the most important thing of all. More than individual awards, more than the medals. While all of that will certainly be refreshing to secure, it's all a part of the bigger picture which is to continue making progress with women's basketball in Guam.
"I hope that Guam women's basketball can continue getting the exposure it deserves. The island has produced some really good players through the years and their success deserves to be highlighted. I think the island is doing a good job at this already but of course, we're always looking for growth."
For those young girls who see Castro as role model and aspire to be a part of the growth of women's basketball in Guam, she has a simple message of encouragement.
"Don't be afraid to take risks and dream big. You never know where the game can take you. And this is a really fun time to be part of women's basketball as it's on the rise."