Life on the ice: Ritondale focuses on hockey career


photo by John Bates. Senior Joey Ritondale helps lead his team to victory by defending the goal. Ritondale dedicates three days a week and weekends to hockey.

Senior Joey Ritondale is not your average high school student.

While most teenagers kick off their weekends at the Friday night football game, senior Joey Ritondale spends his Friday nights on the ice miles away from home. Between student council, a demanding hockey schedule and multiple AP classes, it is difficult for Ritondale to find time to enjoy senior year.

“I play for Team Illinois Triple A Hockey, and there are only three other teams in Illinois at our level,” Ritondale said.

Ritondale is the assistant captain and has played defense his entire 13 year career. He was glad to begin another season with his team, which consisted mostly of returning players. So far, he is pleased with his team’s performance and thinks they will continue to improve.

“We practice three times a week for about four hours and on Fridays we travel out of town, usually in the midwest or east coast, and then play the whole weekend,” Ritondale said.

Since Ritondale is rarely home, you would not think he would focus on academics. However, he maintains good grades in challenging classes and is a member of NHS. Time is a luxury he does not have, so he has to be efficient.

“I go in for help with my teachers a lot, and when I’m traveling, I have to do homework in between games just to keep up,” Ritondale said.

While Ritondale does not have to worry about school over the summer (the offseason), he keeps busy with rigorous workouts. These workouts are led by the Chicago Wolves’ strength and conditioning coach, Rob Rosmis, who also puts Ritondale on a nutrition diet. Sometimes NHL players like JT Compher or Scott Gomez workout and skate with the boys.

“We workout 5 times a week and then go downtown on Saturday mornings to do speed and conditioning workouts,” Ritondale said.

All this work is necessary since he intends on playing in the USHL (the top junior league for players 20 years old and younger) after high school and then getting a division one scholarship. Being away so much is definitely hard on his friends and family, but they know that he is working towards his goal.

“It’s hard not seeing him after school or over the weekend, but because I’m an athlete. I understand, and it only makes our relationship stronger,” said junior Melissa Picchi, Ritondale’s girlfriend.

Although Ritondale wishes he did not have to miss out on activities like football games and dances, he knows it is all part of the life he has chosen.

“My family and friends are really understanding of the traveling and the time I have to put into hockey,” Ritondale said. “They support me the whole way and I think it makes it that much easier that I’m surrounded by a lot of people who understand.”

by Taylor Brown