Sergio Castillo relishes life as CFL kicker: ‘As long as we do our job, no one messes with us’

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Sergio Castillo is well-known in CFL circles for his sense of humour, which was on full display when he described his role with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after signing a one-year extension to remain with the club for 2024.

“Practicing five minutes a day and the other two hours just joking around with the guys,” he told the media via videoconference. When asked specifically about kickers having an easier time in practice than players at other positions, Castillo hardly protested.

“Here’s the thing,” he said. “As long as we do our job, no one messes with us.”

Life in professional football wasn’t always so easy for the 33-year-old native of La Joya, Texas. He’s been a member of nine different organizations since he finished his collegiate career at West Texas A&M and lost position battles to high-profile kickers like Justin Medlock, Lirim Hajrullahu, and Sam Ficken along the way. He also suffered a torn ACL in 2017 while playing for the Ottawa Redblacks and didn’t see regular season action for almost two calendar years.

Castillo has yet to spend two consecutive seasons with the same organization, a drought he’s set to end in 2024 after signing back with Winnipeg. He made 90.2 percent of his field goal attempts over 18 regular season games last year, ranking third league-wide, along with 93.0 percent of his convert attempts. He also led the CFL in points scored with 196.

“Very blessed, very fortunate. Gotta give props to (long snapper Mike) Benson and (holder) [Jamieson] (Sheahan) for the operation. They made things very, very easy for me and I finally felt where I was in a state of mind where I was at peace. I didn’t feel stressed, tense like I did before the previous years,” said Castillo.

“This is the first time in my career where I just felt at ease. Before, I’d go running like, ‘Oh, I’d better make this’ and now I’m like, ‘Alright, it’s just another field goal.’ … It also goes to the culture that (head coach Mike) [O’Shea] has created in the locker room. It’s not a tense environment. Everyone knows the goal is we gotta win but at the end of the day, if you create a locker room where it’s family-oriented, it’s gonna create a very chill, but also hard-working environment.”

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Castillo credited his hobbies outside of football for helping him gain perspective on his career, playing golf and doing photography. He’s also a full-time parent to his son during the off-season, supporting his wife, a high school teacher and soccer coach, and serving as a role model to his many nieces and nephews.

“I think it’s pretty cool that my son will be able to see all the jerseys and helmets with every team that I’ve been on and be like, ‘Hey, you know what? That was my dad,'” said Castillo.

“My dad, he was in and out of my life, really not much in it. So for me, if I can set that example where like, ‘Hey, my dad is educated, he’s Mexicano, and he was able to achieve his dream’ … I think that speaks volumes. I’m trying to show everything that I’ve learned through my experiences, through the patterns of life that have taught me and take all that and show it to my son.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.