For as long as I can remember, sports have been a part of my life. Whether playing baseball throughout my youth, running cross country in high school, or throwing together the odd pickup basketball or football game, I've always been active in athletics. While not always being the strongest, fastest, or most talented, I was always good enough to enjoy my time in sports...either participating myself or, as I got older, coaching. Like most kids, understanding I would never make it to a professional level in any of these came with the territory of growing up. As time went on, finding a way to stay involved in the sports I loved while still working full time and dealing with the realities of adulthood had become increasingly difficult.
At 21, while working part time at a local ice rink, I had the good fortune of stumbling upon a job that would change the way I looked at the sports industry. While still a relatively new franchise, the Chicago Steel Junior Hockey Team was in need of someone to fill in as public address announcer for a game at the end of the 2002 season. Not thinking anything of the opportunity, I filled in for one game, and that was that. Or was it? As the 2003 hockey season drew closer, I was informed the previous PA announcer would not be returning, and was offered the position for the upcoming season. I gladly accepted...who wouldn't want to get paid to watch hockey...and I've been the PA announcer ever since. Gradually, I took on more game-day roles: intermission emcee, music director, Anthem singer...and as the roles increased, so did my desire to continue working in sports.
As time went on, I also developed a love for sports in other aspects, sports talk radio in particular. An outlet to give and receive opinions based on all things sports? Sign me up!
Unfortunately, those real-world demands were a hindrance to my dreams of one day becoming a sports talk radio host.
Call it a pre-mid-life crisis, but when I turned 33 in August of 2014, I finally decided enough was enough. After more than 15 years in the service industry, the previous 4 as a restaurant manager, I figured "What the hell? Restaurants aren't going anywhere, but if I don't try this now, I might regret it for the rest of my life." I began looking into broadcasting classes, which led me to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting(now Illinois Media School) in Lombard, IL.
After attempting to work full time as a restaurant manager while starting classes and realizing this was just not a recipe for continued success, I did a scary thing: I quit my job. Salary, benefits, security: gone. I went back to a much more flexible, but potentially less lucrative job; serving. Doing this, however, afforded me a luxury I might not have had otherwise: my own sports talk radio show on SportsTownChicago.com; The Weekend Wake-Up w/Vito Abbinante. This experience is one I hope will allow me to move into radio broadcasting as a career...not to mention, it's amazing having my own show!
If I have free time, I enjoy reading thought provoking books like "The Stinky Cheese Man..." and "Calvin & Hobbes". In the summer and fall I kill time(and my knees) playing 12" men's league softball. I also enjoy spending time with my 2 year old Catahoula/Pitbull mix, Milo, who happens to be a giant pain in the behind.
I'm looking forward to the opportunities that ICB/IMS will afford me, so keep an ear out for me on the radio!