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Athletic Achievers

Undefeated featherweight Gio Mioletti

Giovanni “Gio” Mioletti won a unanimous decision on April 28 at the UIC Pavilion, beating formerly undefeated William Hernandez in a battle of undefeated featherweights. It was his toughest test to date and, according to his trainer and head coach, John Nocita, “He did everything he had to do to beat a very tough opponent.” Mioletti, from suburban Woodridge, was excited to be fighting in front of his hometown fans. “I was really looking forward to this bout because I knew I’d have family and friends in attendance,” he says. The win moves Mioletti’s record to 7-0, and Nocita thinks ...

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Boxing judge Mauro DiFiore

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing one of professional boxing’s most respected stars outside of the ring. From Chicago, the only Italian-American professional boxing judge in the state of Illinois, always in the neutral corner, is Mauro DiFiore. DiFiore never steps into the ring and he must always maintain strict neutrality. His skills and 50 years of boxing experience have made him one of the most sought after professional boxing judges in the world. His reputation as one of the best has brought him to a level few ever attain. The globetrotting DiFiore has judged championship matches all over the world. He ...

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State wrestling champ Vinny Scaletta

Imagine the Chicago Cubs winning 41 out of 43 to start the season, or the Bears losing only two games over three-and-a-half seasons. Now, you have an idea of the monumental accomplishment of Ridgewood High School senior Vinny Scaletta, a hard working wrestler with the heart and grit of a pro. Wrestling in the 220 lb. weight class, Scaletta captured a state title in February in remarkable fashion, beating one of the few opponents to best him this year. Austin Parks of Crystal Lake Central beat him just a week before Scaletta returned the favor when it truly counted. But ...

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Harness race owners Tony and Michael Somone

The general public recognizes thoroughbred racing because of the big-name Triple Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. But the Somone brothers, Tony and Michael, instead gravitated to harness racing as teens. They grew up close to Maywood Park, which with its sister track in Crete, Balmoral Park, is a hub of Illinois standardbred harness racing. “When I was about 16, I went to the harness races with my friends,” recalls Michael, assistant vice president at Amalgamated Bank of Chicago. (He’s also been vice president of the Italian-American Labor Council for the past eight years.) “They (his older ...

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Youth sports advocate Anthony Isabelli

He’s the manager of digital marketing for the adult division of U.S. Soccer. He also is the U.S. Midwest regional trustee with the Italian National Olympic Committee. And he’s well-known in the Chicago-area Italian-American community as the founder and president of Sportivo Academy, a non-profit organization that provides introductory sports development programs primarily for Italian-American youths in the area. Isabelli says Sportivo, which he founded in 2008, “uses the universal passion for sports in a way to bring local Italian-American youth, coaches and mentors together to not only develop athletic and personal skills, but to help develop Italian cultural awareness ...

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Football standout Hayden Baker

Three years ago, Hayden Baker and his younger brother, Quinn, were teammates on the Cary-Grove High School Class 6A state championship squad, which ended its season with a spotless 14-0 record. Quinn, the senior quarterback of the 2012 Cary-Grove team, was one step away from repeating a similar feat: Winning a 6A championship and going undefeated. The Trojans faced Lake Forest in the Class 6A state semifinals Saturday, Nov. 17, and Hayden — who’s completing his redshirt sophomore year as a center with the Northwestern University Wildcats — attended his brother’s playoff games when his schedule allowed. “I’m just proud ...

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Football standout Ronnie Castaldo

This is Ronnie Castaldo’s senior year. And the three-year varsity starting linebacker/running back at Lake Park High School in Roselle wants to make it a memorable one. Advancing to the Class 8A state playoffs — the Lancers last qualified for the postseason in 2009–is a team-wide goal. Castaldo plans on doing everything in his power to help Lake Park get there. “The last game of the year (in 2011) we beat Neuqua Valley (a state playoff qualifier) in double overtime and carried that into the off-season,” Castaldo said. “There’s no limit for us. I think we’re one of the toughest ...

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High School wrestler Mike DiFrisco

Losses have been few and far between on the wrestling mat for Elmwood Park High School’s Mike DiFrisco the past three years. He’s compiled an 88-15 record since his sophomore year, and finished his prep career this past February by making his third straight appearance at the state individual meet in Champaign. The senior, who’ll graduate in June, posted a 34-4 record during the 2011-12 season at 126 pounds and placed among the top eight in his weight class. Take into consideration that DiFrisco had never wrestled prior to entering high school, and it makes his climb up the ladder ...

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Hockey referee Bud Monaco

Those who’ve played organized hockey in Chicagoland over the years have undoubtedly had Bud Monaco officiate one of their games. If not more than one. Monaco’s been a referee for the past 40 years. He’s officiated games at every level imaginable — from the mites leagues (7- to 8-year-olds) to the AAA midget level elite league (under 18s), as well as Chicago area high school hockey leagues and even a league called the Continental Hockey League, which was popular in the 1970s and into the 1980s and made up of former semipro players, some of whom were onetime NHL prospects. ...

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Hockey standout Mary DeBartolo

Mary DeBartolo began ice skating when she was 4 with her brother, Joey, at the Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood. But learning how to figure skate, like other girls her age, wasn’t Mary’s cup of tea. Her oldest brother, Anthony, played hockey at Southwest. And Mary wanted to do the same. Today, she’s a forward on the women’s team at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, an NCAA Division III school of around 6,000 students located in Winona, southeast of Minneapolis. The sophomore tied for third on the team in scoring during her freshman season last year, netting five goals and ...

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