It looked more like a hockey game than a football game when Christian Brothers College High School hosted their rivals on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.
That’s because CBC alum and Penguins forward Joe Vitale was honored with a halftime ceremony where his No. 16 high school hockey jersey was retired. Vitale was joined by his wife Brianna, daughter Summer, mother Mary Ann, dad Sam and a number of aunts, uncles and cousins.
“My family all had Penguins shirts on,” Vitale laughed. “You didn’t know whether it was a CBC football game or a Penguins hockey game by all the shirts and jerseys. I come from a big Italian family. They’re overly proud.”
It turned out to be a perfect day for such an event, as the weather in St. Louis was sunny and breezy with temperatures hovering in the low 70s. And it’s an afternoon that Vitale will always remember.
“It took a while for it to kind of sink in,” Vitale said of getting the news that his jersey would be retired. “At first I was like oh, that’s cool. Then I got some calls from people and they told me that it was a big deal. Then when I went there at halftime with the full crowd, it was a really nice ceremony and it kind of hit me then like ‘oh, this is really cool.’”
Vitale played four years for CBC from 2000-04, serving as captain his junior and senior years. He won three Missouri state championships with the team (including one with his brother Charlie in 2001). The Cadets posted a 140-11-4 overall record during Vitale’s time there.
Vitale scored 172 points (61G-111A) in his four years at CBC, was named MVP of the title game his junior year and was awarded team MVP honors his senior season.
Vitale’s career at CBC was certainly impressive, but his legacy at the school goes beyond his on-ice accomplishments.
“We were very fortunate to have him,” said Vitale’s head coach John Jost. “He wasn’t just a very talented hockey player, he was just a good person. If you were the best player on the team or the weakest player, it didn’t matter. He treated everybody the same. That’s just the person he is. He was brought up right. He’s got great parents. He was just brought up the right way.”