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Vincent Cappiello Vincent Cappiello
Inducted: 2014 - Graduated: 1984

Vinnie Cappiello

Track & Field, Cross Country

Class of 1984

What happens when a wiry, impressionable smart aleck has two older brothers who inspire him to run on the same track they ran on for the same coaches who coached them at the same high school they and their two older sisters attended?  What happens should happen to every kid who dreams about what it feels like to be a Nanuet Golden Knight. What happens is Vinnie Cappiello’s story.

Inspired by his older siblings and younger sister Loretta and amazingly supportive parents, friends, extended family, teachers and coaches, Vinnie was able to achieve a level of success of which Nanuet would be proud. Numerous county and Section 9 titles, more than 40 medals in cross country, indoor track, and spring track, a handful of school records, and ultimately, 30 years after graduation, induction into the Nanuet High School Sports Hall of Fame. His school record of 1 minute 53.8 seconds for 800 meters remains intact, as does the 1,600-meter relay record he set with teammates Don Semonick (1985), Terry Campbell, and Rich Sklarin (both 1984).

It’s safe to say Vinnie was destined to run. His father, Vin Sr., who spent several years as a volunteer fireman with the Nanuet Fire Department, was a respectable miler in the late 1940s. Vinnie’s older brothers, Paul (1979) and John (1981) were pivotal members of those Dave Hanson teams that gave the word dynasty a whole new meaning. Even before high school, Vinnie recalls watching his older brothers run the 660 at middle school meets. “I wanted to be like them,” Vinnie said. “I wanted to win like they won.”

John says Vinnie’s competitive running actually can be traced back to their neighborhood relay races, which included friend and neighbor John Neri (1981), a member of the Section 9 champion two-mile relay team Vinnie ran on with his brother John and Todd Cote (1981). “We always put Vinnie on the anchor leg, even when he was like five years old,” John says. “He always passed whoever was in the lead right at the top of May Place.”

This was, in fact, a harbinger of things to come as Vinnie earned ribbons at the George W. Miller Elementary School track meet and never lost a single race in middle school. Then, Dave Hanson pulled him aside at the end of the seventh grade soccer season and said, rather emphatically, “You WILL run cross country next year.” So he did, and won the middle school county meet then earned his varsity letter in fall of 1980, working his way up to No. 4 man. This set the table for what Vinnie looks back on as perhaps the defining moment in his early track career: the two-mile relay.

“All I know is coaches Hanson and Beckerle said, ‘Don’t let anyone pass you.’ So I took the baton at RCC and just put my head down and didn’t do anything but hold my ground, like they said. I honestly don’t remember what place we were in, first or second probably. And I gave the baton to Neri and he built a huge lead, I guess. I’m not sure, I ran over to the triple jump pit, nailed a 39-10 for fifth place, and then saw Neri hand the baton to my brother. It took him a little over two minutes to run that last leg, and Joe Straub from Warwick was also anchoring. But John not only held the lead, he extended it, and we won the thing.”

Vinnie was named Outstanding Freshman by the Rockland County Public School Athletic League (RCPSAL) coaches that winter and spring, and over the next three years, he won four county and seven Section 9 600- and 800-meter run and 1,600-meter relay titles. He also graduated in the top 15 percent of his class with a 94 average, was a member of the National Honor Society and worked on both the yearbook and newspaper staffs. It is in the latter of these subjects that Vinnie remains, currently serving as adviser of the Cody, Wyoming, High School newspaper, yearbook and literary magazine, as well as the National Honor Society. The newspaper recently won its eighth consecutive All-State award. Vinnie also was named adviser of the year in 2011.

He has been married for 25 years to Lisa Kohls, whom he met in 1986 when Vin Sr. and Carol, along with Loretta, moved to Cincinnati and Vinnie transferred from the U.S. Naval Academy to Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He would go on to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism while at Ohio U. Vinnie and Lisa have three daughters: Gabriella, 18; Sara Rose, 15; and Magdalena, 11. Vin has published one novel, “A Quarter Mile From Home,” and worked as a sports writer and columnist for several daily newspapers in Ohio, Idaho, and Wyoming. His coverage of the Sept. 11 terror attacks earned him a Wyoming Press Association Award of Merit, and in two years as managing editor of the Cody Enterprise, the paper won 29 Wyoming Pacemaker Awards and 11 National Newspaper Awards.

Now 48 years old, Vinnie remains committed to educating youth in his 20th year as a teacher and adviser. He teaches writing and literature classes and yes, he still runs, having completed two full marathons, three half marathons and numerous 5Ks and 10Ks with his wife Lisa. He most recently completed the Mount Sneffels Marathon in Colorado, finishing in 4 hours, 38 minutes, 55 seconds.

“I can’t help but think that perhaps all those years I ran, in Nanuet and thereafter, were preparing me for Mount Sneffels. It’s amazing how things come full circle, how you rely on lessons you learned from your spouse, your own children, your parents, your teachers, your coaches and your friends … when you feel like giving up, but for some reason you don’t. You dig deep to find inspiration and you find it in the most unlikely of places. You just keep throwing your feet forward, and in the end you finish, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Vinnie Cappiello combined his athletic gifts with an unremitting work ethic to carve out one of the most stellar careers in Nanuet track history. Congratulations on his induction into the Nanuet High School Sports Hall of Fame!