Mr. Castagna Leaps Into a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity on “Frogger”


Sophia Lycette and Isabelle Johnson

Mr. Castagna surprised his English and public speaking students with the news when the competition series dropped on Peacock earlier this fall.

Sophia Lycette and Isabelle Johnson

Many students tend to not consider what teachers do outside the classroom. This is why Mr. Joseph Castagna, a Southern Lehigh English teacher, shocked the Southern Lehigh community with his appearance on a national television show, streamed on Peacock. 

Leaving the 2020-2021 school year a few days early, Mr. Castagna flew to Sydney Olympic Park in Australia where he participated in the TV show Frogger, a 80’s themed competition that revolves around rigorous obstacle courses.

Mr. Castagna found out about the new production after being put onto list after applying for other competition shows, such as “American Ninja Warrior.” Knowing the theme of the show, he decided to apply with a silly, highly stylized video. Shortly after submitting his audition, he got the news that he had secured a position on the cast. 

“I got a random email about a show that was built around obstacle courses,” said Mr. Castagna. “They were looking for weekend warriors, and it was all about the 80s. That checked every box for me.”

It was a six-week experience, including a two-week quarantine prior to filming, adding to the struggle of being away from his family for so long.

“One hotel room for fourteen days,” Mr. Castagna said. “Couldn’t open a window, couldn’t leave.”

After the quarantine, the four-week competition process started. He and the other cast members were shuttled from set to set daily. Each day, a competitor would be placed with another person from the group; however, it was unknown who they competed against until they got there.

By the end of his endeavor on the show, Mr. Castagna won second place in his episode, earning a spot in the top 15 overall.  

Although being on a television show may seem very different from being a member of the Spartan faculty, Mr. Castagna said that his collaborative “Spartan Life Podcast” with math teacher Mr. Ryan Haupt helped him prepare.

“It made it easier to talk to people and form friendships,” he said. 

The extensive prep work for his podcasts also helped him figure out how to present his persona on the show.

 “I gathered many thoughts about how I wanted to present myself on TV,” Mr. Castagna said. “I wasn’t fake — it was totally me — but everyone has a lot of aspects to their personality.

Mr. Castagna made it clear that it was also vital for him to place the Southern Lehigh community and its reputation in a good light. He takes pride in his performance on the show, as many students claimed. 

“Mr. Castagna showed us the video during class; it was very impressive,”  senior James Ascolese said. “I can tell he is passionate not just as a teacher but also about his journey and performance on the show, and I appreciate that.” 

Many of Castagna’s students find it intriguing that they can learn from someone who can be both a rigorous teacher in the classroom and also take on such strenuous obstacle courses outside of school. Although many students were astounded by the appearance of a teacher on a television show, they widely agree that it fits Mr. Castagna’s personality, and doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.   

“I was a little surprised, to begin with, but Mr. Castagna seems like quite the adventurous guy,” senior Patrick Laughlin said, “I know he has done a bunch of Spartan races, so I thought it was different, but getting to know his personality later on changed my opinion.” 

He will most likely not take on such a time-consuming journey again because of the long separation from his family; nevertheless, Mr. Castagna fulfilled his goals by participating in the show, learning and growing from this thrilling experience. 

“Life is all about new experiences,” he said, “but, more importantly, sharing those experiences with people you care about.”