Brien McMahon senior Jeff Vitatoe recently committed to American International College (AIC) to play baseball, quite a feat considering he has only one year of varsity baseball under his belt.
The right-handed pitcher grew up with a baseball in his hand. By the time Vitatoe was four he was playing organized baseball, but it wasn’t until middle school that he realized his full potential as a player.
“Around seventh grade I knew I wanted to play in college.”, claims Vitatoe.
After all, his play had landed him on all-star teams representing Norwalk summer after summer, and his name had become a regular in local papers. One couldn’t help but think he would continue his success in high school.
Then, his name all but disappeared from the local press. Thanks to his 6’0 frame and a fastball that was already reaching the low 80’s* his potential seemed to be unlimited, but Vitatoe finished his freshman and sophomore year with a combined record of 0-0.
“Freshman and sophomore year I didn’t play due to grades. I thought I was going to be able to slide by and not worry about them.” He explained.
After two years of failing to maintain the minimum GPA (1.7) to play sports at McMahon, a switch went off for Vitatoe.
“He ended up getting his work done, and got on himself a lot more.” Says Brien McMahon senior catcher Hunter Dumas. “His attitude became really strong, and really positive.”
Vitatoe says that what inspired him to turn his academic standing around was the thought of not playing in college.
“Junior year came around and I started to grow up. I realized I needed to do more to get where I wanted to be.”
Vitatoe made an immediate impact on the McMahon baseball team after getting his grades in order. After serving as a relief pitcher and outfielder for the first half of the season, he earned his way into the starting rotation.
In order to makeup for lost time, Vitatoe also began to travel to showcases. In fact, a showcase at Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts is where AIC first saw him.
After a recent visit, Vitatoe knew AIC couldn’t help but feel that AIC is where he belongs. Over the next four years he hopes an impact on the Yellow Jackets baseball program, but first and foremost he is focused on education.
“I would like to major in criminal justice or physical therapy.” He says.
Dumas, who has been a close personal friend of Vitatoe’s, is headed to East Georgia State College in the fall to pursue his own baseball dreams, but he is more than confident than Vitatoe will succeed at the next level.
“As long as he follows the rules, and does well in class he will do just fine.” He said of his buddy.
Before he graduates in June, Vitatoe has a chance to leave one last impression on Brien McMahon.
“I want to be remembered as the kid who got off his butt, and changed for the better, and one of the best pitchers to leave the school.”