Freshman transfer starts new life


Will Ortbals '25

Freshman Santiago Castillo lines up against Saint Louis University High School.

John Mills, Entertainment Editor

He sighs. He knows that he will miss this life, as he walks into the Casablanca sports bar and orders his favorite food. He knew that moments like these would come at a premium once he moved to the United States.

Freshman Santiago Castillo was born in and lived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria for the majority of his life until he moved to the United States.

“I lived there for 9 or 8 years,” Santiago said. “Then we moved from place to place, a few places in the United States and even Canada.”

Santiago has lived in lots of places including Louisiana where his little brother was born

“We’ve moved to different places,” Santiago said. “Just so we can see my mom again.”

The reason his mother is unable to see him is because of how strict the immigration rules are in Nigeria.

“I don’t feel like I should go back to Nigeria,” Santiago said. “Mostly because of how it is corrupted, a lot of it and just the way the state is.”

Most of Santiago’s time in Port Harcourt was spent in his mother’s restaurant called Casablanca which serves bar food and traditional Nigerian food. It also has a 4 ½ star rating on Tripadvisor, not to mention it even has karaoke.

“My mom has been pretty successful, she’s helping out a lot,” Santiago said. “She’s doing very well, and really is trying to show Nigeria in a better way and I support her for all that she has done.”

Although not being able to see his mother, he has family in the United States such as his dad and brother.

“My dad, brother, and I live in Creve Coeur,” Santiago said. “But the rest of my family lives in Nigeria.”

But even with all this adversity, Santiago has been blessed with a tremendous gift and opportunity which are his size and the opportunity to play for the football team. Santiago is an offensive lineman who was one of the only freshman offensive lineman to dress for most games this year.

“I think he brings a type of excitement,” head football coach John Merritt said. “He brings a type of energy that guys that have been playing since they were kids don’t get excited about.”

The football team made it to the conference championship this year, and Santiago ended up playing in a couple of them.

“Him as a player is awesome to have, and then he’s massive, he’s huge,” Merritt said. “He’s going to be a tremendous player because of his size, speed, and athleticism.”

Santiago’s energy doesn’t just revolve around the football field, but also in school as you can typically see him giving someone a high five or saying hi to someone in the hallways.

“So much of football and life are new to him,” Merritt said. “He gets excited about everything.”

Football isn’t the only new thing to him as he has had to adjust to a lot of things such as coming to the United States and having to live without a parent.

“I feel like if a parent is living with you and another one is not living with you, it should be that you all should be living together,” Santiago said. “Because it’s not exactly fair for people like me, but to others, they don’t see it the same.”