Forest Hill High School senior Ian Rouille is a talented soccer goalkeeper. But his motivation to block each shot that’s kicked his way is what sets this player apart from the rest of his team.
To Rouille, being the best goalie in Florida only seems worth it if it means making his older brother Kelvin Castillo, who recently passed away, very proud.
“I am doing every single thing and every single step of my life in honor of him and to make him proud,” Rouille said.
Castillo, at 23 years old, passed away on March 8, 2019, after a tough battle with cancer. Not only was he Rouille’s older brother and role model, but he was also his best friend.
“Kelvin and Ian had this love that I didn’t know this type of love existed,” Rouille’s mother Daniele Pereira said. “They’re brothers, they are supposed to love each other right? But it’s the most beautiful thing.”
The two shared an admirable bond.
“The relationship with my brother was unbreakable,” Rouille said. “No matter what came in our way, we would always find a way to be together.”
Rouille grew up playing soccer, making it safe to say that the sport was his first love. He started playing at South Florida Academy when he was 14.
“Some people say, ‘Are you born for that?’ Ian was definitely born for that,” Pereira said. “At age 10, if you asked him about soccer he knew all the players, all the games. I was like, ‘This is not normal!’ It’s his passion.”
With big goals and dreams in mind, Rouille wanted to become a professional player. But after his brother’s passing, his world flipped, and so did his soccer plans. His main motivator was no longer there, and it took an inspirational realization for Rouille to keep kicking through life.
“When he passed I was going through a rough time that I did not want to continue soccer. I actually took a break from it,” Rouille said. “And after a third week of me taking a break, I actually received a call from Yale University saying they were interested in me, saying that they wanted to see more of me, they wanted me to go visit. Just knowing that it was insane that I was on my break from soccer because I was going through so much with my brother, he actually gave me a sign that I needed to get back into soccer and not quit.”
A new mentality followed Rouille as he got back into the sport he truly loved. He focused on the “now” of the games and not the future.
“What I’ve noticed is that the littlest things in life you cannot worry about,” Rouille explained. “I started to become happier in the way that I look at things in life.”
Every game Rouille plays is for his brother. Every save he makes is so he can hear his brother cheer him on from above.
“Today Kelvin is his angel, and every game that he plays he dedicates for him,” Pereira said.
Rouille knows that Castillo continues to support him from heaven. He says soccer is a way to keep their strong brotherhood alive.
“Now that he is an angel I always know that he is always watching over me, and every time I make a save I always kiss up to the sky and give him a kiss like I sent one to the sky,” Rouille said.
Castillo’s impact on his brother’s life is the greatest save out on the field.
“We always used to have a conversation; if I ever got to the stage of being pro, that he would always be behind my net watching me. And even though now that won’t happen, I always know his spirit will be there behind my net.”
By Daniella Parra