For Charlie’s Angels leader, Kim Castro, this is not what she signed up for when she started Charlie’s Angels 19 years ago. On June 12, she was given the Commitment to Youth Award by Leadership Roswell Alumni Association at New Mexico Military Institute VMW Hall for impacting the lives of youth today for the better.
Also honored at the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association were: Tom Krumland – Outstanding Leader Award; Mike McLeod – Alumni Leadership; Don Anderson – Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Teen Leadership scholarships went to Logan Eaker, Allie French and Vincent Verciglio.
Castro has been about being able to do what she loves and bring dance to her alma mater, Roswell High School, and coach both her daughters, Ali and Desiree Castro along the way. Angels assistant coach Silvia Hernandez was there along with current and former angels to see Castro accept her award.
“I was excited about winning the award,” Castro said. “It means a lot to me. I’ve had kids tell me, ‘If we can get through being a Charlie’s Angel, we can get through most things in life.’ It is difficult, it’s tough being on my team. I have kids that don’t miss practice and they aren’t allowed to miss unless they are really sick or something comes up. On the whole, my kids are really dedicated. It means a lot that my kids (Angels) look back on this and it is one of their best memories. It makes me feel good that I have had an impact on them.”
Castro looks back
Castro reminisced about how the Angels were started in 2000, and her first years until she won her first championship. Castro went to the RHS Superintendent Dr. Fresquez and asked if she could have a dance team.
Castro felt like there were a lot of kids in the Roswell school district that wanted to dance. She continued to teach dance at Miss Minnie’s School of Ballet at the time. She knew there were other dance teams in Albuquerque and in other cities up north, but not any in Roswell at the time.
Castro’s oldest daughter, Desiree, wanted Castro to do something different and get a dance team started. Castro had been a cheerleader at RHS and always wanted to have a dance team, but they didn’t have one when she was in high school. Castro believes RHS had a dance team before she started Charlie’s Angels, but they were not a competition dance team.
First time at state
In the beginning, the dance team had to work around the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams’ practice schedules. Sometimes they had to practice at Miss Minnie’s Studio to get their routines in. The dance team finished in third place at state in 2001, their first year of going to state.
In her first time at state, Castro and her team were nervous. She felt like it was a learning experience. Her team was excited to place third but felt like they left there wanting to be No.1. Castro was driven in the early years to win. She watched a lot of film of other teams in the Angels’ class to get better.
Her whole goal was to win.
“I thought it was pretty impressive to finish third our first time in state,” Castro said. “I was just learning myself how to put it together. To place third our first time up there was a super huge accomplishment, but we left there knowing we wanted to win.”
Angels’ first win
The Angels continued to come close: in their second-year, they came in second place. In their third year, they dropped to third place and their fourth year they scored in second place again. It was in their fifth year the Angels won in 2005.
“I think the difference in 2005,” Castro said, “was that our technique started to get better and we started doing harder and harder routines. We just started doing more to win. By the time we won, I had had that group of kids for four years and I think they were super motivated — they could be possibly the hardest working group I ever had.”
Class misses out
When Castro finally broke through and won her first title, several of the kids had graduated and didn’t win a championship. Castro feels they were a part of the championship in that they laid the foundation for future Angels.
“I had a senior the year before that didn’t win,” Castro said. “She got second and I was sad for her because she was a really hardworking kid. I feel like the early kids helped build our program into what it is now even though they never won. They were the building block to what we do now. In the early years, those kids worked so hard even though they didn’t win. I’m still in contact with those kids from way back when.”
“I think my favorite memory is probably my first one (championship),” Castro said. “The reason is that we had never, ever done it and we had been trying so hard to do it. I have good memories of all of them (championships) in different ways. I think our first National Dance Championship (2016) would be up there as well. Anytime it’s a first time of something, it is pretty exciting.”
All of the Angels look alike, they comb their hair on the same side, they have the same makeup.
“People tell me that all the time,” Castro said. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’ve watched one kid the entire time and it wasn’t my kid and I thought it was.’”
Castro makes the team comb their hair the same way, and apply makeup the same way. They end up looking alike, but it’s not planned. Castro wants her team looking uniform and they practice doing everything the same so no one girl stands out.
“Our team should be completely uniform,” Castro said, “from our head to our feet. I’m always on them about not sticking out in a bad way. I’m on them if they color their hair because then they’re standing out in a different way and we don’t want to look different. I just want them to all look natural and uniform when they take the stage. I tell them if they stand out they are not performing as a team — we need to be looking like one.”
Castro believes in unity so much that if they wear makeup, it is all the same. If it is lipstick, it is the same color.
Castro remembers the very first time they announced tryouts were going to be held on Saturday — she was shocked the turnout was over 50 girls. She had to do something she doesn’t like to do, which is making cuts. Castro brings in judges to help her shape the team as she did back in her first tryout.
To make the team now as then, she will give the girls a short routine to learn and have them do some technical dance moves to see if they are able to do them. Castro uses a score sheet and ranks the girls from highest to lowest. Each girl is scored on different dance skills.
Silvia Hernandez became involved in 2000. RISD had a rule that if a coach wasn’t a teacher or worked in the school, they weren’t allowed to be a head coach. That rule has since been changed. Hernandez worked at the school and Castro knew her from talking to her in the front office every day.
“I asked Silvia (Hernandez) if she would be interested in helping out,” Castro said. “It is really how we kind of met. Prior to that, I didn’t know her. We’ve always had a good partnership. She does a lot of behind the scenes work, she helps me with paperwork and discipline. She does a lot more than I ever expected her to do. We are a team. I think our program is strong because we have a lot to offer in different ways.”
Castro and Hernandez have been together so long and know each other so well, it allows Castro to have the freedom to do what she does best and that focuses on the dance part and workout routines. Hernandez handles the administration part of the program as well as being another set of eyes to see if a dancer is off. Both have been together as a team since the program started 19 years ago.
“I always say,” Castro said, “even though I do the dance portion, it would have been hard to do this — this well without her. We’re pretty much a team. We work together well and we both know our roles. We don’t ever compete against each other, we just do it as a team and we get along well together. I think I need her for all of the reasons she needs me. It has been a good team. Both of our positions as super valuable.”
Parents and role models
Castro believes in being upfront with the parents about what she expects. The Angels have a meeting at tryouts where she will tell the parents what to expect and what the program is about. Castro tells them it takes a lot of dedication to be on the team. Also, if they eat dinner together at 5 p.m., then this is probably not the program for you.
“If I don’t have the parents’ 100 percent support,” Castro states, “which I do. I have great parents. If I didn’t have it, then I wouldn’t have the kids’ dedication. I always say behind every great kid is a great parent. I really appreciate my parents, I have really good parents.”
I’ve had kids from all kinds of backgrounds. I’ve had kids that don’t come from a good home life and it was being an Angel that saved them and got them through. Castro thinks that being on the dance team has given the girls a source of pride and accomplishment in belonging to something that is not easy and the dance team is a family, which picks the girls up when they are down.
“I’m happy if I have been a role model,” Castro said.
Castro has been married for over 30 years and her husband, Danny, is proud of her and all that she has accomplished and that she is living her dream. She believes that she spends more time during the season with the dance team than she does at home.
“It takes a toll,” Castro said. “Luckily, I’m married to someone that is proud of what I do and he encourages me.”
It is awesome that I’m recognized for giving something to the youth,” Castro said. “My dance teacher once told me, ‘It is a gift. When you give kids the gift of dance you’ve given them a gift in life.’”
As Castro accepted her award, those are some of the thoughts that went through her head as she gets ready for her 19th year as the leader of Charlie’s Angels.