MARCELLUS — Maddy Locastro radiates "all-American girl" with big blue eyes, freckles and a beautiful smile.
Recently graduating No. 1 in her class at Marcellus Senior High School, she was named an academic all-American in one of her two sports, lacrosse, which she played throughout her four years.
Locastro actually started with soccer and was hesitant with lacrosse, initially finding the protective gear confining. But, she kept at it.
“Each one is my favorite in the season,” she said. “They are both fun.”
Fun is part of her infectious spirit. And family is central to her life, too.
Her father, Dr. David Locastro, is one of 12 siblings from Auburn, and her mother was one of eight Merrimans from Marcellus. Locastro is the oldest of four. She said she is following in the tradition of several cousins who were athletes at Marcellus.
“This year was great because my younger sister Katherine is a junior, so we were on both teams together,” she said. “I'm close with my sisters. It’s really great. I'm grateful.”
She credits Katherine to introducing her to lacrosse as Katherine played first. Then there is Lilly, who will be a freshman and was already pulled up to play as a midfielder on the high school's JV team. She also has a little brother, Ben, who at almost 9, is also an athlete.
“We live three minutes from the Ultimate Goal (soccer center in Marcellus),” Locastro said, noting the family lives in a neighborhood that includes two of her teammates, Abby Vetsch and Maddie Conklin.
Locastro's parents both played soccer and took her to play at the league on Lawrence Road when she was 5. It's been all down field from there, as she played defense in both sports.
“Soccer, I get in the zone. Our team was tight-knit, so when I stepped on the field we all knew what to do,” she said.
Marcellus has a long history of its girls soccer teams playing in sectional, regional and state playoffs. The best game Locastro ever played was a soccer match against the Mustangs' arch rival, Skaneateles, where the Mustangs trampled the Lakers.
The team moved on to play another big rival, Westhill, and won but then lost in the regionals to Schalmont. Locastro said it was so much fun to play with all those teams.
One of Locastro's teachers, Terry Hoey, introduced her to Francis House, a home for the terminally ill located in Syracuse.
Locastro volunteered there throughout high school, working to raise money and awareness through marketing and fundraisers. She said its mission is so special, as they help people at the end of their lives.
“They ease you into the transition, and it is more comforting,” she said.
Instead of going away to college, Locastro is challenging herself with a gap year. She will work in Quido, Ecuador, in a school for children with disabilities.
"I have a lot of academic interests — biology, psychology and chemistry. I think I would like to pursue the medical field," she said. "I'm passionate about developmental pediatrics."
This passion was started during two HUGS — Help Us Give Smiles — medical missions with her father to Quido, Ecuador. Her father is a general surgeon, specializing in the treatment of varicose and spider veins.
In Ecuador, her father performed reconstructive surgery on children who could hear but their ears were deformed and in some cases missing. These children would be shunned by their society, Locastro said, until these corrections.
"It's amazing to see this transformation in a week when kids would get ears," she said. "You can feel the passion and the gratitude."
This summer, she is working as a camp counselor while also planning her gap year trip.
"If I am going to do this, I need to do it on my own — my own itinerary — it’s more challenging ... and nerve racking," she said. "Dad says that means you are growing. You don’t want to be comfortable. Dad grew up in a family of 12 and never had any opportunity to travel, so he entered the Air Force to do so. He’s tried hard to give us these opportunities. My mom is the kindest person I ever met, the best, constantly supportive."
After her work at the school, Locastro plans to do some touring, visiting Machu Pichu and Vilcabamba, which is referred to as Valley of Longevity, and then head to Peru before returning to Marcellus, where she one day hopes to raise a family of her own.