The St. Louis area's heritage as a high school soccer hotbed will be on full display Saturday, when the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association inducts the organization's first hall of fame class Saturday, and the Metro Catholic Conference will take center stage.
De Smet Jesuit's Greg Vitello, CBC's Terry Michler, Mike Villa of Vianney are part of the class, as are the late Ebbie Dunn of SLUH and Bob Horgan of CBC.
"It means a whole lot, especially with the group of individuals being inducted," Vitello said Thursday, noting that he grew up in coaching with many of them.
Vitello has been a De Smet Jesuit coaching fixture in soccer, baseball, football and other sports since 1968. He says he's tried to be fair and consistent, never asking a student-athlete to give more than he could on the field.
Patch asked him the difficult question of who the ultimate "Greg Vitello" player was. It is a difficult question because he's coached several players who have reached the highest levels of the sport, including several, like Pat Noonan, Will Bruin and Chris Klein, who were just involved in the 2012 MLS Cup.
Vitello chose Josh Aranda, now an assistant coach for the Spartans, calling him an "ultimate competitor" who was classy on and off the field.
If the Hall of Fame honors are a time for reflection, the occasion doesn't sound like a swan song for Vitello, who said he still loves teaching, studying DVDs and coaching conventions.
"I still really feel like I have a passion to coach both sports," Vitello, who has a career record of 745-287-133, as a soccer coach after 44 seasons at De Smet and 474-275-7 on the baseball diamond.
"I've never arrived in coaching," he said.
The Hall of Fame induction is paired with the MSHSSCA Boy's banquet, which will also recognize the 2012 Academic All State Squad, which includes Chaminade's Jason Pesek and Curtis Shillingsford.
Chaminade's Tommy Barlow was named the state's Player of the Year for 2012.