Hayden Castor was resolute. He wanted to go toward the collapsed stage and see if he could help lift it off the people at the 2011 Indiana State Fair, but his sister Kylie Castor didn’t want him to leave her side and managed to overrule him.
His sister says that there is an especially caring side of her brother, a side frequently sending her text messages asking her to come home and spend time with the family. And that side was on display to her when he wanted to help that night.
“He’s always like that,” Kylie Castor said. “I think that’s something that not a lot of people know about him. He’s such a caring, lovable guy. He cares about everyone, and always wants to do stuff for people. That was just, that’s a typical thing for him to say to me, that he wants to help somebody.”
It wasn’t until later that night that Hayden Castor realized the scope of the tragedy.
“What I really saw was a lot of people rushing over there to try lift the stage off of some people,” Hayden Castor said. “People moving the chairs out of the way. That’s honestly all I saw. I really didn’t see it fall on anybody. But it was just crazy.”
Seven people died at that concert, and dozens more were injured in one of the more tragic accidents in Indiana’s recent history. Hayden Castor, now a sophomore shortstop on the Wapahani baseball team, shares a bond with his sister from having been at that calamity.
He will try to join his sister in a much happier club on Saturday, the ranks of Wapahani athletes who have won a state title for the Raiders.
He and his teammates will face off against Evansville Mater Dei at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Class 2A state championship game, played at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Wapahani (29-4) is the No. 1 ranked team in Class 2A. Evansville Mater Dei (23-9) checks in at No. 7 in the final poll.
Kylie Castor, currently a student at Ball State, was a member of Wapahani’s 2011 state champion volleyball team. Now she’s watching as her brother tries to become a member of the Raiders’ first team to ever win a state baseball title.
The possibility of a second Castor sibling becoming a state champion has become a hot topic around the house.
“She’s joking around, saying that she’s got a ring,” Hayden Castor said. “She’s always said that, when she won. And it feels good to have a chance to go out and get a ring.”
As his team has reached the state championship game, Hayden Castor has been a productive member of the lineup. He has jumped in as his team’s starting shortstop, batting .458 with 10 extra-base hits (including three home runs) and 17 RBIs. In recent games, he has been hitting in the No. 6 position in the batting order. He has the best batting average on the team among players with at least 10 at-bats.
Hayden Castor also plays basketball, and he is 6-foot-3. As he’s grown taller, people have assumed he is simply a basketball player. They are often surprised to find out he is also a shortstop on the baseball team. Despite his unusual stature for a high school shortstop, he’s proven himself capable on the diamond.
“Coming up through the younger grades, he’s played a lot of different positions,” Wapahani coach Brian Dudley said. “So it wasn’t really a big thing for him to play short. He could catch, he’s done everything coming up. And he’s just a very good athlete.”
Hayden Castor works closely with senior second baseman Luke Snider, with whom he hadn’t shared a middle infield before this season. Snider said after taking time to learn each other’s tendencies, the pair have grown into working well together. They have a way of keeping each other loose, Snider said.
“He’s got a good arm for a shortstop,” Snider said. “And he’s got a lot of range out there, too. So he’s going to be good when he’s a junior and senior, I know that.”
Hayden Castor said his thoughts have returned to that tragic night in his subsequent visits to the fairgrounds. He admits it’s hard to return to Indianapolis and not think about the tragedy he saw in that city.
On Saturday, though, he will be in Indianapolis trying to create a memory that will be far happier, a memory like the one his sister enjoyed when she won her state championship in Worthen Arena.
“Beginning of the year, coach always said, ‘Do something other teams haven’t,'” Hayden Castor said. “That’s been our goal all year and that’s what we’re striving for.”