Interview with Jasmine Soto-Castro

Jasmine Soto shares about her volleyball career thus far and her love for the sport and her family.
Jasmine Soto-Castro serving the ball to the other side of the court.
Jasmine Soto-Castro serving the ball to the other side of the court.
Daryl Peterson

Michael: What’s going on, Talon Marks. Today is the middle of the process of working on our feature story for stand-out volleyball player for the Cerritos Falcons. Jasmine Soto, please introduce yourself.

Jasmine: Hi, my name is Jasmine Soto-Castro. I am on the volleyball team for Cerritos. I’m a freshman in the team…

Michael: Before we’re doing this interview during the week and I went to find out some things about you. More specifically towards your volleyball career. Looking at some of this… two straight undefeated seasons and championship seasons, a three-time first-team all-league selection. You spent four seasons on the volleyball team and also two years of beach volleyball and track & field. I’m also aware you have two siblings, Stephanie and Evelyn, who also play volleyball.

Jasmine: Yeah.

Michael: Seeing that they play volleyball, what made you want to play volleyball and when did you start playing?

Jasmine: I think I was 12 when I was just playing at a park for recreation and I just started playing at the park for soccer. I played basketball, softball and then there was one point where they were playing volleyball. Small parks were playing against each other and I found out that one of the coaches from a club in the city of Commerce [was there]. They told my parents, “oh, we would love for your little girl to come play with us,” and I tried it out and I did not know what volleyball was, [or] what it was about until I went to a tryout.

I started playing and I remember I was just a really small, skinny girl that couldn’t serve a ball over. The coaches at the City of Commerce, which is the club named Commerce Crush, they really taught me who I am now as a volleyball player. They taught me how to pass, serve, and set and that led me to how I play now.

Michael: So during your freshman year, you guys went undefeated. I’m aware of that now and your next year was cut off due to the pandemic. How tough was that for you as a player to have your season cut off and how were you able to remain prepared knowing that your guy’s next season was unknown?

Jasmine: I was really sad and also to the point where my sister, she was going to be a senior my sophomore year. She didn’t have a season for her senior year and I was devastated cuz she didn’t get to play her junior year because she went to Bell Gardens and then she transferred to Schurr cause I wanted to play at Schurr. We both agreed we wanted to go play for Schurr High School.

So when we played together our freshman year, I was a freshman in the varsity team, she was a junior in the varsity team, but her season was cut cuz one of the coaches didn’t want to let her play since she was a transfer student. She missed out on her junior year and the pandemic hindered her senior year. It really hit me, that she didn’t [get to] experience her senior year. I just felt how the pandemic just stole her year or like the class of 2021, I think.

Michael: That was my class. How were you guys able to stay ready, even though you didn’t know when you were going to play or even if it was going to happen?

Jasmine: During that year, we had a grass league where we played outside with masks on. It just didn’t feel the same being indoors. It was harder, we were running on grass. [Playing] indoors you could easily get a ball but in the grass, we [would] get a little grass burn. It just didn’t feel the same. We had a smaller league. We didn’t compete against other big schools and stuff like that. It just felt small.

Getting back to my junior year when we actually had a season, it felt like we were all slowly getting comfortable with each other. Technically I was playing with the same team. There were at least 12 seniors so all together went from junior to senior [year] together. We all had the chemistry for like at least a year. Our chemistry for senior year was really big. We ended up going to our third round of CIF our senior year.

Michael: During the pandemic, it was like a ‘stay ready’ mindset. Even though [it was] unknown, we don’t know when we’re going to play again but it’s just stay prepared. Any moment we could play again. You know just have the mindset to always be ready. Stay prepared. I get it cuz I kind of felt the same way cuz I didn’t know when our life would be back to normal. I can imagine that as an athlete who had all this momentum and all of it just killed because of the the pandemic.

Jasmine: It just felt really weird coming back, actually [being] indoors. In my junior [year], I took advantage of playing indoors. I never knew when the pandemic was going to hit again. I took advantage of having fun with the girls, being outside, and meeting new people. I took advantage whenever I played [against] teams, I talked to two, three girls in the team. I make friends with them. I talk with the coaches too.

Michael: That’s a mentality you need to have when you play sports especially. That’s good that you have that type of mentality. Take advantage of the stuff you have right now because you don’t know when… it got taken away once and you don’t know when it’s going to happen again so that’s a good mentality [to have]. When I think of mentality, I think of an athlete that many people love. Kobe Bryant, with his infamous Mamba mentality. I am aware that one of your inspirations, your main one is Misty May-Treanor. How did she inspire you as a player, [and] as a person?

Jasmine: I’ve been told that she was a really short player and that she was really good for being a short player. It inspired me. It doesn’t matter about height, it matters the way you show people how you play and that you can compete against tall girls. Some tall girls can be tall, but they don’t have the power and being smart on the court. Being short I got to be really smart and have my power and techniques to jump up to the nets and just like use them sometimes. Tool them.

Michael: We all know Misty, she’s an American gold medalist. Especially in the U.S. with women’s sports, it feels like for the most part, they feel so unappreciated by the general audience. Especially people in the NBA [fandom], how people are like, ‘well there’s the WNBA but we have the NBA when there,’ you know, better. It feels that people don’t put that much attention to women’s sports. How do you feel about the agenda people have on women’s sports?

Jasmine: I feel like we get less noticed and then when we show people how women can actually play. Our games can be interesting too. It’s not fair how people lower our standards as a woman and as a girl.

Michael: How do you think that you and other women’s sports can change that?

Jasmine: As a woman, I can show everyone that I could jump as high as a guy. I can have the power as a guy. There [are] differences.

Michael: Right now you are a part of the Falcons and very lucky to have you on this team because of how good we’re doing right now. Last season, we struggled a lot last year, as a team. Before you came here, did you have any other offers from other schools?

Jasmine: Yeah I had other offers from ELAC, Rio [Hondo}, Los Angeles City College. I had some from different states. There were some universities that contacted me too but they were far away. I wanted to stay close to home for now. There was one point where I was looking more towards a good coach.

I worried about the team too cuz having the chemistry, having nice girls in the team, and knowing that the coach is really good and won’t be like making you struggle or making you feel like you won’t love the sport no more. Coach Carrey coming to me, she made me feel really comfortable. Getting to know her cuz she could come to some of my club tournaments, she would talk to me, telling me how she would love me on the team.

There was one day where I called her and I was like, “hi Coach Carrey I would love to play for you.” I knew that half of my team was coming to play here. We knew we had some kind of chemistry together and we could bring it together to Cerritos. It’s just crazy how making one phone call to a team and the other I had to contact other schools like, “oh I’m sorry I’m committed early.”

Michael: That makes a lot more sense now because every time I talk to Coach Carrey after the game, even when it’s a tight game, you guys always remain so calm. You guys are always able to keep it together. She’s always telling me, “yeah there’s girls that came here together as a team. They already have built chemistry for years. That type of chemistry you can’t teach, you can’t coach that.”

Michael: Now that you explained that to me, it makes a lot more sense now.

Jasmine: I know the girls and we know how to comfort each other. We know each other attitudes. Our attitudes are not bad because we talk together. If we were to give attitude, we can work together. We build to breathe, let it go, and focus on the next point. That’s how we tell each other to…

Michael: So we know already that you’re an amazing volleyball player. The way you play on the court shows it. With a good volleyball player comes with the person that’s off the court. Like Jasmine Soto off the court. When it comes to your family, who amongst your family inspired you the most?

Jasmine: Honestly, I can say my whole family. My mom and dad inspire me cuz they’re immigrant parents and they push me to be my best. Also my older sister Stephanie. She’s really gone through a lot and she’s always the one stepping up cuz she’s the oldest. I appreciate the things she does for us.

Michael: When you talk about your parents being immigrants, do you know where they come from?

Jasmine: My mom came from Mexico, part of Guerrero. My dad came from Mexico too and he’s from Guanajuato.

Michael: That’s where my grandpa’s from.

Jasmine: Yeah.

Michael: Continuing on to with your family, can you go into a little more detail about what your family means to you?

Jasmine: My family is really supportive [of me]. They’ve attended all of my tournaments, and club games. My sister is in college right now and she made a whole schedule to balance out my games so can intend [and] record. If you ever see my volleyball videos, they’re always filmed by my sister. She’s always being supportive, recording everything I do in the court so that I can edit them, put them together, and show others what I can do.

That’s not what I do, it’s something that my sister does and she wants to show people how I play. My little sister Evelyn, I always play with her my entire club life. We played together for several years. She’s always shown how much she loves me. There was one point where I got injured last year and she was sobbing cuz she knew that I was done for the season.

She was sobbing and crying, it showed how much she loved me. I was really heart-warmed about how much she cared about me. My other teammates are crying too. It’s just crazy how my teammates showed emotions. How much they loved me. It really hit a lot when I got injured at a club tournament.

Michael: When you talk about your senior teammates, a moment like that. Your season is over because of an injury. With that being said even now and back then, do you consider your team as a family?

Jasmine: I consider my team as a family, especially my club team Crush. I also want to shout out my Coach George, who is my club coach. He really supported me and always pushed me to play in college. At first, I never thought that I should play in college. He pushed me like, ‘oh you’re really smart. You got the techniques to play in college.” He pushed me towards coming over here. Where I am now.

Michael: We know that you are Mexican. What does the month right now, Hispanic Heritage Month, mean to you as a Mexican?

Jasmine: Hispanic Heritage Month really means a lot to me because I’m showing where I came from as a Latina here. Also being a short Latina girl in the court. I can show that us short Latinas can also play volleyball and it isn’t a matter of height. Being a tall girl. I have the power to show it into the court. I’m glad that I can show others that as a Latina, we can also play volleyball. It doesn’t have to be about height.

Michael: Going back to your family, what do you remember about the house that you grew up in as a child?

Jasmine: As a child, we started off living in a small house I grew up with [my] loving mom. She was always there for me. My dad always went to work every day to support us. Growing up we slowly started building up the way we lived and we moved to a bigger house. I’m grateful for where I live now cuz of my family. My parents worked so hard to where we are right now. I just really love how my parents still work hard to make money and to give me everything I need in school or in a sport cuz being in the club team is not cheap. It’s not free. It’s really expensive. They work hard to give me anything I need for the sport.

Michael: What is your earliest memory in your childhood?

Jasmine: My earliest memory was probably when I would go to the beach a lot with my sisters and my mom & dad. We would sometimes bring our other cousins from my dad’s side. We would always just enjoy every time we had at the beach during the summers. I really created a big bond from there with my cousins and my sisters to where we are now. We still hang out and go out whenever it’s my free time.

Michael: Going back a little bit to volleyball, what type of happiness does playing the sport of volleyball bring you?

Jasmine: The type of happiness it brings me with volleyball is when I get to meet new people. I get to meet my teammates and make friends with them. I enjoy talking with coaches, talking with parents. Parents always come up to me after games to compliment how I play and it just warms my heart and makes me want to push to be a better player every single game and show them a new play every time. That’s it.

Michael: When you talk about your siblings, you love them I’m sure, just by the way you talk about them. You love them so much. What type of bond do you have with them?

Jasmine: I have a really big bond with them. We try going everywhere together. We always do end up going everywhere together. We love to go thrift [shopping]. We love to go to the parks together. We walk, and play volleyball together. We love to go to the mall together or go out to eat at different spots. Our parents get mad at us when we go out to eat because we always have food at the house. We secretly go out to eat at Wing Stop, Buffalo Spot. We get Asada fries.

Michael: That’s your favorite food. I saw that on your bio.

Jasmine: We always get asada fries from my sisters. We always share at least two plates together. We make memories there when we eat together and we’re just making jokes or memories like, “oh remember when we used to go here.”

Michael: Outside of volleyball, what are some other goals you have in life?

Jasmine: Other goals I have is finding a good job where I could be able to support my parents. Pay off any debts that they were to have. Just wanna give the world to my mom and dad & to my tio’s too. My uncles, to give them anything they want cuz they’ve supported me. Every time they come over, they hand me off a little bit of cash like, “go buy yourself some snacks or ice cream,” and I just like really appreciate the money they give me to buy like a little snack. I would love to give back to them in the future.

Michael: Two things. One, would you like to share some encouraging words to people [listening]?

Jasmine: Work hard and show others what you can do. Don’t worry about what others say. Just do you and always go big.

Michael: Lastly, I know your coach probably does not want you to do this but.. I felt like when I talk to you, sometimes you could be like such a humble player, like ‘oh I’m good. There might be someone better than me’. Excuse my language but I want you to talk your s**t. I want you to let people know who Jasmine Soto is as a volleyball player.

Jasmine: I can be like the best player sometimes but there are some days where I will of course have an off day. For example, Long Beach, when we played at Long Beach City College, that was really my off day. I expected more [out of] myself. I was like “damn. This is not how I play” so I stepped it up and if I couldn’t hit, I had to step up on my passing.

I stepped it up during the Long Beach [game], after like the third set. I would just love to say that just because I’m a short player doesn’t mean I can’t slam a ball. Every time I go against a tall girl, it just never scares me cuz I played [against] at least hundreds of tall girls. During my club season and high school season, we would always play [against] tall white girls. It never scared me. They can be six feet and it won’t matter to me.

Michael: Aside from your teammates, in the Cerritos College conference you’re in right now, be real, would you say that ‘yes, I am the best’ right now?

Jasmine: I can say that we can be our best but their sometimes we’re a little off but we’re still learning how to play together. Still learning how to move things around. I feel like our next games, whoever we play, we’re going to keep it undefeated now. Learning from our two wins, we learned how to find new spots. I feel like we can beat Rio [Hondo], Long Beach, and PCC for sure next time, whenever we play them at their home or our home.

Michael: I appreciate you guys and your time.

Jasmine: Thank you.

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About the Contributors
Michael Delgado
Michael Delgado, Editor in Chief
Michael Delgado is the Editor in Chief for Talon Marks. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys listening to Hip Hop and R&B and hopes to work for Fox Sports in the near future.
Julio Rodriguez
Julio Rodriguez is the Multimedia Editor for Talon Marks. He loves to spend his free time watching anime and movies. His goal is to pursue working at Fox News.
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