By day, Steve Castiglione ’18 tests the waters exploring career options. In the evenings and on weekends, he dives right in — literally. He wows audiences with a repertoire of flying swans, back full layouts, inward one-and-a-halfs, and javelins, executed before knifing into a pool of water 30 feet below.
“I’m all about trying new things,” Castiglione says. “I think it’s part of human nature to be adventurous.”
When we last left Steve, the former captain of Clark’s diving team was contemplating a move from his native Connecticut to Colorado. Not long after his arrival in the Denver area, he stumbled on the Casa Bonita Restaurant in the suburb of Lakewood, when he was looking for a place to continue his diving. Casa Bonita is a locally famous, family-oriented “eater-tainment” destination that features a variety of Mexican-themed dining areas seating up to 1,000 guests, and a troupe of performers ranging from mariachi musicians and pirate impersonators to jugglers and puppeteers. Perhaps its most spectacular offering is the team of 12 divers, led and choreographed by Castiglione, who wow audiences by diving from a 30-foot cliff (with waterfall) into a 14-foot-deep pool — all of it indoors.
“Everybody knows about Casa Bonita. It’s very much a Colorado-native thing,” he says.
“I’ve met people from all over the country. I’ve had the privilege of doing a dive show for the Denver Nuggets, and for actor Drake Bell. I get very well taken care of at Casa Bonita. It’s very much like a family.”
Not long after Castiglione started at Casa Bonita, where his first assignment was auditioning new divers, he was selected to lead the team. He enjoys working with the other divers and designing performances that are creative and engaging.
“Ever since I became the head cliff diver,” he says, “I’ve been able to work a lot more on the program, getting divers to do different dives instead of the same ones they always do. For example, you can have the same five dives, but rearrange them in such a way that you give the audience a different show every time.”
After a couple of day jobs, first in a kidney dialysis clinic and then a commercial plant nursery, Castiglione is now a swimming instructor at the local British Swimming School franchise, conveying his love of swimming to students of all ages while continuing to entertain diners at Casa Bonita.
This fall, the former biology major will be preparing for the GREs as he plans to apply to graduate school.
Castiglione credits close mentoring by chemistry lecturer Ernest Krygier, assistant professor of biology Nathan Ahlgren, and the late David Thurlow, professor of chemistry, for inspiring his love of science. Thurlow, with expertise in biochemistry and molecular biology, became his adviser.
“He was such a role model,” Castiglione says, describing how Thurlow had provided “constant, unending support” as well as “guidance with internships, jobs, and research opportunities.” He fondly recalls early-morning breakfasts at Annie’s with “Dr. T,” often accompanied by friends Lucyna Kogut ’18 and Cam Mitchell ’19.
Since his move to Colorado, Castiglione has cultivated a love for bouldering — he’s taken to climbing cliffs, not just diving off of them.
And while he relishes trying new things, his enthusiasm for his alma mater is as strong as ever.
“Clark gave me so much; has given me the life that I have. Without it, I wouldn’t be the same man that I am today.”