By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Blue Bombers placekicker Sergio Castillo is used to having football players run full blast at him while he concentrates on kicking balls.
On Wednesday night, it was hockey players rushing toward him.
Castillo, who shoots photography as a hobby, got to be rinkside and snap pictures like a pro through a cut-out glass hole at the pre-season game between the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames at Canada Life Centre.
One rule he had to follow was closing the hole’s sliding door and holding it shut as soon as players are about three metres away from it.
“As soon as they crossed midway (on the ice) I shut that window down because I was so scared. It was crazy,” Castillo said Thursday after the team’s walk-through in preparation for Friday’s home game against the Toronto Argonauts.
“It was pretty cool to see the other photographers in action. It was just like, there’s no fear, right? I’m a baby to this. It was just a really, really sweet environment. I got to shoot up on the concourse level, too.”
Castillo, wearing a Spider-Man sweater, was caught on tape with his long-lens camera by the rinkside hole to the right side of one hockey net. The video was posted by the Jets on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
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It was his longtime agent, Gil Scott, who arranged the non-paying gig after the pair saw each other recently and talked about his photography and desire to shoot a Jets game. Scott knows Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and contacted him to ask about an opportunity for his client.
Castillo said no fans in the arena recognized him, but some of his teammates saw the video on social media.
“We’re in a group chat and they started sending screen shots or video of me,” he said with a smile. “I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I didn’t think I’d be getting any screen time.”
The 32-year-old said he got interested in photography a couple years ago after his wife and her best friend started a men’s Sunday soccer league in Amarillo, Texas, where they live. He ran the team’s social media, including making TikTok videos on his phone that got a lot of views because of his fun commentary in Spanish.
His wife, Adriana, bought him a camera last Christmas and he was off and clicking.
“It’s a hobby of mine and it’s a good stress reliever for me,” Castillo said, adding his other hobby is golf.
His wife coaches a high school girls soccer team in Texas and his lens is usually focused on their games. He’s also shot sports such as baseball and men’s and women’s basketball at his alma mater, West Texas A&M University.
This past summer, he took photos at a Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball game and a PGA tournament in the city.
“It’s easily the fastest sport I’ve shot,” he said of the NHL game.
The seven-year CFL veteran said he’s not making money from his side interest and just likes the mental challenge of learning a new skill from scratch.
He enjoys all types of photography and posts some of his work on an Instagram page called Chingonedits.
He’s taken photos of Bombers running back Johnny Augustine for his birthday, and defensive end Willie Jefferson has asked him about doing a family shoot.
“I just love photography and I love capturing moments because behind every picture is a story,” Castillo said.