Standing before the Robstown Independent School District Board of Trustees last Tuesday, former head baseball coach Steve Castro questioned the manner in which his career ended and made a plea to return to the program for one more year.
Citing a desire to coach the incoming seniors and the need to finish his career on a positive note, Castro asked the board to consider allowing him to return for the 2010-11 season.
"We have 10 seniors coming up right now that, when they were fifth-graders, I promised them I would be with them when they graduated. And, right now, I feel that I abandoned them," Castro said. "Give me another opportunity to complete my career with my seniors coming up this year. That's all I'm asking."
The district suspended Castro during the regular season earlier this year while an investigation into possible UIL violations was conducted.
That investigation eventually determined Castro had violated UIL rules by allowing non-district personnel to participate in practices and pre-game activities. In April, the district reached an agreement with Castro in which he submitted a letter of resignation to be effective at the end of the season, and in return his month-long suspension was lifted and he was allowed to coach the remainder of the season.
Castro took issue with that decision Tuesday.
"That's why I wanted to express my feelings about some of the things that happened this baseball season. You took away half of the season. And through that time period, our players were very negative," Castro said. "There were fights, disagreements, negative thoughts as far as the team was concerned, as far as the coaches were concerned. You took that because of a lot of hearsay, and that's what really bothers me."
Castro also questioned the board's motives in accepting his resignation.
"To me, I feel there is not a single individual here in front of me that should have negative thoughts or bad feelings about me. There shouldn't be a single individual. I don't know why," Castro said. "What have I really done wrong in 35 years, to (deserve) what I got? In 35 years, the dedication, the time I spent on weekends out in the sun instead of with my family - and then some of you are trying to brand me with negative thoughts."
Castro's resignation was accepted by the board in April in a 5-1 vote, with only board member Richard Gonzalez voting in opposition.
Following Castro's comments to the board Tuesday, board member Pablo Avila expressed his support for Castro and recommended he be rehired.
"I feel that he's dedicated his whole life to serving Robstown and the kids. I feel like right now it's not a good time for us to allow Coach Castro to leave," Avila said. "My personal opinion is that with the program he's put together, there's not a person prepared enough to take over for what he's built. Quite honestly, I feel it would fall apart. But most importantly, I feel Coach Castro deserves to come back."
On Wednesday, Superintendent Alfonso Obregon said Castro's request had come as a surprise, given the agreement that was reached in April.
"What you saw (at the meeting) was a complete surprise to me and I think to most of my board. He just came up and spoke under the public forum, and he expressed his wishes and his desire," Obregon said. "It was not an application and he is not a candidate to be interviewed. He just spoke, and that's it. I haven't met with him on any issue."
While the district has had two applicants for the vacant coaching position, neither of them was from Robstown, Obregon said.
Because Castro's contract expired at the end of the baseball season, he is no longer an employee of the district and is required to submit an application to be considered, Obregon said.
"To my knowledge, Castro has not applied for the position," Obregon said.
Should Castro decide to file an application for the position, he will be considered alongside the other applicants, Obregon said.