NSD Relays: Kris to Chris

pictured: Kris Wright repping Texas Debate Collective

Monday was Becca Traber to Kris Wright.

Here is a favorite memory and compliment from Kris Wright to Chris Castillo:

There are so many fond memories and awesome colleagues to choose from in crafting this compliment, but I found myself thinking about one person in particular: Chris Castillo. I’ve known Chris since I first starting coaching (maybe even slightly before). We’re both from Texas, graduated high school the same year, and are both named Kris (his being the second best spelling). At some point early in our friendship, we discovered that not only was he born the day before me, but he shares a birthday with my mom and I share a birthday with his! It always seemed to me that the universe had fated us to be friends and colleagues. 

Over the past 16 or so years, Castillo and I have grown up together as coaches. We’ve coached against each other in big rounds and have been to see each other reach new coaching milestones. (I’m suddenly reminded of the 2006 TFA State awards ceremony, when Chris coached his first of many finalists and the 2007 Bronx tournament when he–in his early 20s—received the inaugural lifetime achievement award, despite being very early into both his life and coaching career.) All of these memories share two things in common: first, a classic Castillo wisecrack that left me both laughing hysterically and wishing I were blessed with his wit. And second, Chris modeling some of the virtues that I most admire.

I’m sure Castillo knows by now how much I adore him and value his friendship. However, he might not know how much I also aspire to be like him as a coach. I’ve long been inspired by how he relates to his students. It’s so clear to me how much he cares about them and that his motivation to coach has everything to do with wanting to help those students learn, grow, and to be fulfilled through their experiences in debate. While many coaches with Castillo’s level of success (and a fair share of coaches with significantly less) end up losing their hearts and souls in pursuit of the elusive win, Castillo does not waiver. He doesn’t seek to live vicariously through the successes of his students. He doesn’t let the ‘W’ overshadow what’s more important. Whether it’s the debaters at Strake Jesuit or students at camp, Castillo gives of his time generously and does it with a deep commitment to the wellbeing of students. I think everyone who has ever been coached by Castillo knows exactly what I’m talking about. I also think every educator should aspire to be like him.

Kris Wright

Check us out on Friday to see who Chris passes the baton to!

Jayanne Forrest