“Sometimes negatives become positives. So, he actually planted the seed in my head about becoming a professional because I wasn't thinking about becoming a professional. And so, it was a sort of a backward influence.”
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio and Buffalo, New York, golf was never on Castillo’s radar. The second of three children with an older and younger brother, she spent her youth playing the sports her siblings did – mostly football, baseball and tennis – games that were easy to just walk outside and pick up. Plus, there wasn’t a golf course near where she lived, making the game even less accessible for the “city kids” in her urban community.
Her first interaction with golf came when her husband invited her along with him to the range to hit some balls just after their second child was born. After he was through with his practice, there were about ten balls left in the bucket and he suggested Oneda try to hit a few to see if she liked it. Unsurprisingly, it was love at first swing for the lifelong competitor.
Castillo was hooked, diving headfirst into the game, signing herself and her kids up for lessons and helping out at the junior clinics her children attended, keen on learning as much as she could about the sport that always seemed out of reach. Golf became her passion, allowing her to get out and do something for herself while also spending time with her family. But Oneda’s newfound hobby would develop into so much more than she could’ve predicted when her engaging instruction style caught the eye of local teaching professionals.
“I really loved (golf) because I had grown up with brothers and played all the sports growing up as a kid, except golf of course,” Castillo said. “And then when I did get introduced to the game, I loved it so much because it gave me the opportunity to go outside and play again, which was something that I did growing up, but once you become a mom and you're an adult, you got a family, got a job. There’s all this stuff going on.
“Bringing my daughter to (junior) clinics, I would be that parent who was there to help, and I enjoyed doing that with the kids. I had several professionals tell me that I was good at teaching with the juniors in particular. We did that at the Metroparks in Cleveland, Ohio, and then when I came to Atlanta, Georgia, I did the same thing volunteering to help with junior clinics. And that's where I worked with William Lewis, a wonderful PGA professional here in Atlanta. He told me that I was good at teaching and that I should join the LPGA.”