student playing soccer

Meet Santiago

Santiago, Class of ‘23, loves soccer. Everything about soccer.  He started playing at the age of three and never looked back. With a dad who played professional soccer for Colombia and also for the Chicago Fire, soccer is in his blood.  Santiago came to Tampa Prep in 9th grade to get a better education and also, you guessed it, to play…soccer.

​​Favorite subject?  “Probably English.  I never really liked it before coming to Tampa Prep, but Mr. Bamford makes it really enjoyable and he makes it easy and fun to understand.”

Favorite teacher?  “That’s really hard to answer because I definitely have more than one!  Senor Ruiz, Dr. Williams, Mr. Bamford and Ms. Harwell, especially. And, of course, Coach Smith.  I love their energy towards me and their love towards me. I can tell that they really care about me.”

Athletic awards/accomplishments/recognitions?  “I’ve been invited to the USA National Training camps for two years in a row, for the US National Team. They look for the best 25 players in Florida and bring them to a one day training camp. I also got to go to Portugal and Spain for a soccer tournament when I was 12 years old and was featured in the Tampa Bay Times.  One of my favorite soccer games is when I was 8 or 9 years old and I was playing with the West Florida Premier. We won the game 9-0 and I scored all 9 goals!”  

Future aspirations? “As you can probably tell, my main goal in life is to become a professional soccer player.  After I graduate high school, I really want to go straight into the pros.  If that doesn’t happen, then playing college soccer would be the next step and then hopefully the pros.  I just need to play soccer – it’s my life and my passion.”   

Favorite thing about Tampa Prep? “Honestly, everything in general.  It’s such a great atmosphere and a great environment.  The students are so loving and caring.  And, the teachers are just absolutely the best.  They do whatever they can to help us succeed and you can tell that they really want you to do well.  They make learning subjects, even the ones that you think you might not like very much, really interesting.  At other schools, I don’t think that the teachers put in the same energy and they just don’t seem to care as much.  Tampa Prep is a really special place.”

Santiago is also interested in

Playing Soccer
Watching Soccer
Doug Smith Tampa Prep History Teacher

Coach Doug Smith on Santiago

“Santiago Castaneda is a gifted athlete who lives and breathes the game of soccer.  From the first time I watched him play as a ninth grader, it was evident that he was not only gifted, but that he was also determined and hardworking.  The characteristics of his game — which are highlighted by his creativity and his ability to combine with his teammates on the field — make him a consummate team player.  Plus, he is coachable and brings a great positive energy to training each day.”  Coach Doug Smith