As the Winter Olympics kick off this Friday, February 9, a local young girl is gearing up to chase her own Olympic dreams. Rockaway could see one of its own hitting the ice in a future Winter Olympics as a hockey goaltender by 2022/2026.
Rosalyn Lim-de Castro is just 15 years old, but she’s already dreaming big about her future. The Rockaway Beach teen is about to embark on a whirlwind adventure that will take her all the way to the Philippines, and maybe one day, to the Olympic hockey rink in Beijing for the 2022 winter games.
Like many Rockaway kids, Lim-de Castro has long loved surfing, but at the age of eight, she fell in love with another sport that takes place on water—but the frozen kind. She started playing ice hockey after her stepfather, a goaltending coach, taught her the game, and she’s been playing ever since. “It’s my outlet. Surfing is also my outlet, but hockey allows me to express myself. Whenever I step on the ice, I feel like I was meant to be there and it really takes my mind off of anything else going on in my life,” she said.
“Whenever she’s on the ice, I can see that she’s in her element, just as she is when she’s in the water,” Rosalyn’s mother, Janice de Castro said.
But her mom isn’t the only one who has noticed Rosalyn when she’s in her element. A professional team has also taken notice. With minimal options in the local area, over the past few years, Lim-de Castro has gone as far as Pennsylvania and New Jersey to play on competitive teams, with the latest being the travel team, the Princeton Tiger Lillies. As Lim-de Castro worked her way up the ladder toward a college hockey career and beyond, the young Filipino American caught the eye of the Philippines National Women’s Hockey Team, an organization that was only recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the governing body for ice hockey, in 2016.
In the early spring of 2017, Lim-de Castro received an email that would change her life. She received an invitation to play with Team Pilipinas at the Hockey 5's Tournament in Hong Kong, the largest ice hockey tournament in Asia, in May 2017. With an offer she couldn’t refuse, Lim-de Castro went to Asia to play in the tournament as goalie for the Women's Team Islanders Pilipinas, and the team—and “Ros” dominated. The team took Gold in the tournament and Lim-de Castro was named Most Valuable Player.
After proving to be an asset, Lim-de Castro now has the chance to take the team even further as they attempt to qualify for their first Olympic games. But to do so, the young goalie has to make some sacrifices to chase bigger dreams. In order to fulfill her requirements with the IIHF, which is also the governing body for Olympic Ice Hockey, Lim-de Castro must live in the Philippines for two years. After completing that requirement, she’ll be able to play in the tournament that could qualify the team towards reaching the Olympics. She’ll be living in Manila by March 1.
“I’m definitely excited because it’s a new opportunity and a door to an entirely new chapter in my life, but at the same time, I’m nervous because it’ll be a fresh start,” Lim-de Castro said.
Adjusting to life in a new country will be a challenge, but for Lim-de Castro, acclimating to her new team won’t be a problem, even though she’ll be the youngest player by at least four years. “I won’t have to worry about adjusting to the new team. We all clicked really well at the tournament in Hong Kong. They were very welcoming,” she said.
Lim-de Castro’s mom and little brother will also be joining for the adventure. “You want to support your children’s dreams. You can tell when something is just a pipe dream, and when they have the determination to really achieve it. For Rosalyn, this isn’t a pipe dream. She work hard, trains hard and makes the sacrifices that she makes at such a young age. She wants this and I do everything I can to help her achieve what she sets forth to do, despite the hardships and sacrifices as a parent. The best thing I can do for any of my children is help them achieve what they want to do,” Janice de Castro said. “Plus, it’d be awesome to be cheering her on from the stands at the Olympics one day. That’s gonna take a lot of work, but it’ll be amazing to see her not just represent the Philippines, but New York and Rockaway.”
Lim-de Castro says she’s going to miss her hometown. “I’m going to miss Rockaway. I’ve only lived here for four years, but it’s become a true home to me. I know all the locals, I see them out on the water and around town, and it’s like having a big family here,” she said, adding that between her busy training schedule, she’ll try to find time to surf the beaches of the Philippines, which are a few hours outside of Manila.
However, she’s ready to embark on this next step. “I think I’m ready to jump into the new chapter of my life. I’m just gonna take it step by step. It’s a big change, but I think I can handle it,” she said.
Lim-de Castro’s dream and the big changes that come along with it, come at a high price. Her family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the out-of-pockets costs. To help support Ros, head to www.gofundme.com/RosTeamPilipinas
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