By Evangeline Cafe
Carole Lynn Castillo has always loved being on stage, from singing in the choir as a child to acting in community theaters during her teenage years. She was born with a knack for performing and has never been afraid to take risks.
“I once played the role of Orpheus at Seattle’s Rainier Valley Youth Theatre,” recalled Castillo.
“I was a Filipino girl playing a Greek god,” she said, laughing. “Orpheus was a dude.”
Castillo assumed the biggest role of her life when she enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2002, two months after graduating from high school.
“I wanted to do something different. I wanted to become a professional, and I wanted to be a part of something,” she said.
Castillo was stationed at a Naval Station in San Diego and embarked on her first deployment in the spring of 2003. As an undesignated deck seaman, she traveled the Pacific and Indian oceans, and made stops in Australia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
The young sailor quickly adapted to life on the ship. During her second deployment, she started weight training. She was not only interested in meeting the military’s physical standards. She wanted to go beyond them. Castillo made frequent trips to the gym and asked her shipmates for guidance.
“I asked one of my sailor friends to help me out. I told him not to be afraid just because I’m a woman. I wanted to learn,” she said.
Castillo continued her workout regimen when she returned to shore. In 2006, she was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey, where she started her current job as an Aviation Maintenance Administration Petty Officer Second Class (AZ2).
Castillo’s passion for weight training grew stronger. In 2007, she attended a bodybuilding competition where she met Tanji Johnson — a seasoned competitor and fitness professional who soon became her mentor.
“Carole Lynn expressed interest in competing one day, and we kept in touch via email. I invited her to join my fitness team, and she did,” said Johnson.
Castillo set the ambitious goal of placing in a competition. She trained with Johnson for weeks leading up to the Vancouver USA Natural 2008 Bodybuilding Championships and Tanji Johnson Fitness and Figure Classic. Johnson helped the young sailor strengthen her muscles, choreograph her routine, and perfect her poses.
The hard work paid off when Castillo won third place in her class in her very first figure competition. Johnson wasn’t too surprised.
“When she makes up her mind and she is focused, she is a force to be reckoned with,” said Johnson.
Castillo’s co-worker at Naval Air Station Whidbey said that Castillo shows the same type of discipline and determination on stage as she does in the workplace.
“She is a hard charger,” said Kenneth Stott, Aviation Maintenance Administration Petty Officer Third Class (AZ3).
“She likes to get her work done. She likes to get it done and cut out all the unnecessary stuff,” he said.
Castillo competed in three more events last year and is currently preparing for this year’s Emerald Cup, slated to take place on April 17 in Bellevue. She says the thrill of being on stage for these events surpasses anything she has ever done.
“It’s a different kind of competition because it’s an individual sport. When I played basketball, it was a team effort. When I did musicals and plays, it was a group effort. This is a different kind of performance. It’s just me, myself, and I.”
Castillo acknowledges that her strong passion for fitness may surprise some people. But she’s not letting negative opinions get in her way of success.
“Some say, ‘Why would you want to do that? Get muscles and look like a man?’ The way I see it is that women are starting to step up and say, ‘Hey, I can do that, too.’”
Johnson believes Castillo has strong potential for a career in fitness. She hopes the young sailor will continue to defy stereotypes and pave the way for more women to enter the field.
“She is definitely making a statement,” said Johnson.
Castillo didn’t say for certain whether she will pursue a serious career in bodybuilding. Right now, she is mainly focused on meeting her goals and strutting her stuff on stage.
“I’m not gonna stop. I’m gonna keep on going,” said Castillo. “It’s really exciting.” (end)
Evangeline Cafe may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Rock Band Manager talks about being a girl on the road