Longtime Barbe coach Castillo dies

Longtime Barbe basketball coach David Castillo, who led the Bucs program for 18 seasons, passed away Saturday. According to a pair of local coaches, his impact on lives went far beyond the boundaries of a basketball court.

According to a Baton Rouge newspaper, Castillo died at age 61 after a short illness.

Barbe baseball coach Glenn Cecchini, who got his start in coaching assisting Castillo in hoops, said Castillo’s impact on his was greater off the floor. He and Castillo remained close friends after Castillo left Barbe to coach at schools in the New Iberia and Baton Rouge areas.

“He was a great Christian, a great man, a shining example,” Cecchini said. “He impacted others and led by example.”

Cecchini and wife Raissa started their coaching careers under Castillo in 1986-87.

“I will always be grateful,” Glenn Cecchini said. “Us being his assistant in basketball opened the door for me to coach baseball at Barbe. He was great with the Xs and Os. He was always very prepared and left no stone unturned. He was a great defensive coach. He loved coaching, it meant the world to him. He was thorough and tough on the kids, but he loved them. He was a demanding coach, but in a good way. From him I learned about preparedness, attention to details and how to adapt and adjust to each team.”

Cecchini said Castillo’s on-court accomplishments, which include leading Barbe to their first state tournament appearance, don’t tell the whole story.

“His biggest legacy will be that he really impacted so many lives,” Cecchini said. “Not by telling people how to live, but by being an example. Every morning you could see him highlighting passages in his Bible. He was a pure man, he did not drink or smoke.”

The two traveled the country together, visiting historic sports venues such as Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

“He loved watching sports and always enjoyed an adventure,” Cecchini said. “We traveled the country together. He was proud of his Louisiana ties. He graduated from LSU, as did his dad and grandfather. He always got on me because he said I didn’t love LSU enough. For the first time in my life, I am going to wear a purple shirt to a funeral.”

Current Vinton head coach Keith Kelley was another longtime friend. Kelley said Castillo usually left him laughing. “He was one of those guys you liked being around,” Kelley said. “He was always smiling and cracking jokes. I can be a serious person, but he always brought out the best in me. He always found a way to get me laughing and cutting up. He made you forget about the serious part of life.”

Kelley said he saw Castillo change over the years, with his competitive spirit taking a back seat to more important aspects of life.

“We went on a few overseas missions together, that is when I really got to know him and our close friendship started,” Kelley said.

“Over time, you could see a transition in his life. He never lost that competitive spirit, but he started to prioritize better. Family, friends, relationships with players became more important. I watched him evolve as a man. Sometimes us older coaches can get stuck in our ways but I saw him become a better man. That showed me that I can change. It had a big impact on me.”””David Castillo