Growing up in Irving, Dino Castillo played virtually every sport until his grandfather, Tom, told him to pick one at which to excel.
He chose bowling.
“Because it was indoors,” said Castillo, 50, a Highland Village resident since 2015. “I started bowling when I was 7 but was 15 when I said I would stick to bowling.”
He started competing for money in adult competition at age 16 and thought about joining the Professional Bowlers Association when he turned 18. However, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, making money traveling the world as an “amateur” was more lucrative than in the pros. Remaining an amateur also allowed him to qualify as a member of Team USA in 2001-2004.
Finally in 2005, at age 33, he changed his mind and while competitive, was never able to beat his peers. That changed on June 12 when he won the United States Bowling Congress Senior Masters at Sam’s Town Bowling Center in Las Vegas.
“It’s a little bit of a relief. I’m still feeling it,” he said back in town four days later. “One of the questions I’ve been asked many times is ‘how does it feel to finally win?’ That was the million dollar question for me because for many years as a ball rep, guys who won with the bowling balls I drilled for them and helping my customers succeed, I felt that was a victory for me. So when they won, I felt equally as emotional when those guys won.
“So when I won, it almost felt like I was winning for them because all my fans and my family and everybody who follows me after 17 years, I felt it was for them. I felt relief because they got to experience it.”
His big day started with a 300 game against good friend and former Flower Mound and Double Oak resident Chris Barnes, who recently moved to Denton. Victories against Jack Jurek and Parker Bohn III put him in the two-game title match against the tournament’s top seed, Chris Warren, a former Texan who now lives in Grants Pass, Oregon. When he beat Warren 253-216 and 201-169 he captured the $20,000 top prize and a kiss from wife Stacy.
He moved to Highland Village when he married Stacy and to be closer to his three sons who lived with their mother in Flower Mound. Reid, 17, will be a senior at Marcus High School, Jonas, 13, will be an eighth grader at Lamar Middle School and Kye, 11, will be in sixth grade at Lamar. Stacy has 16-year-old twins, with none of their children much into bowling. Castillo spends much of his time watching his two younger sons play soccer and stepdaughter complete in softball.
While finishing second a number of times on the regular PBA national tour, Castillo did capture seven regional titles. But when he realized he wasn’t good enough to beat the younger players, he knew he needed a “steady” job. So in 2006, he opened The Bowling Shop in Garland and today owns four other pro shops in Lewisville, Denton, Richardson and Rowlett.
He also spent five years on the road as a ball representative on the regular Tour. He returned for a year when he hurt his shoulder in 2017 and again this year.
“The first 5-6 years on Tour, I really thought to try and win,” he said. “I was close a couple of times, made a couple of (TV) shows and finished second to Tommy Jones in 2011 in Japan. “After that point I realized it might not happen so I didn’t stress so hard to win. I had family at that time – two kids and the third one was coming and a business with five pro shops – so my priorities became family first, then business and then bowling on Tour.
“I didn’t focus as much on winning. I was still competitive. I just kept going out when I could. I minimized my travel and picked and chose events that fit my schedule. I had a good time. I got to bowl with my friends on Tour, made a couple of shows. I enjoyed bowling. It was tough out there because those (young) guys were so good. It was grueling to compete with those guys. But it was less stress. I tried not to worry about it as much which made bowling that much easier.”
While he found it harder to compete with the younger bowlers on the regular Tour, he knew he’d stand a better chance once he became eligible for the PBA50 Tour which happened last July 2.
“The difference on the Senior Tour is the conditions are a little more forgiving and I felt I was at a bit of an advantage,” he said.
He only competed in one PBA50 last year – the Senior Masters – where he placed in the top 24. He vowed to make this his true rookie year different.
“My wife and my pro shop guys said, ‘take this year, make 2022 your rookie campaign and go out and work at it.’ So I went out to the first event (in April in Fort Myers, Florida) and actually finished second.”
Less than two months later, he finally was able to achieve the success that had long eluded him.