Published by Tom Haley of The Rutland Herald on February 4, 2021. http://www.rutlandherald.com
Joe Caligiuri wanted to be a meteorologist and his plan was to pursue the major at St. Michael’s College.
That plan changed with one play on the first day of Rutland High School’s basketball practice on Nov. 14, 1996. It was a torn ACL.
All of the rehabbing gained him an appreciation for the athletic trainers who worked with him. Meteorology was blown away with the force of an Oklahoma twister. Caligiuri now knew where he was headed.
A Super Bowl ring and his own 18,000-square-foot facility later, there is no doubt that Caligiuri made the right decision.
There is a sign on the wall at Caligiuri’s Stadium Performance in Dedham, Massachusetts that reads: “You’ll Never Know How Far You Can Go Until You get There.”
That motto is a way of life that Caligiuri embraced. He certainly had enough reasons to turn back, enough hardships, but he kept moving toward the goal until he got there.
It was Castleton, not St. Michael’s, that Caligiuri attended after graduating from Rutland High in 1998. The reputation of Castleton’s athletic training major was a draw. He also played basketball for the Spartans.
After graduation, it was off to Boston College as an athletic assistant trainer.
That wasn’t easy. He did not have enough money for a room and spent the first three months living out of his car in a campus parking lot. Sometimes he slept in the car, sometimes under the bleachers.
Eventually, he was able to afford a room.
“I just kept on grinding,” Caligiuri said.
The next leap was to the New England Patriots where he worked an an athletic trainer from 2004 through 2006, picked up a Super Bowl ring and made connections that have served him well from then on.
“The New England job changed my life forever,” Caligiuri said.
He saw just how much the aura of the Patriots was admired anywhere he went.
When he applied for a job with the Los Angeles Kings, he got it despite knowing next to nothing about hockey.
“They all wanted to know what that special sauce is that makes the New England Patriots,” he said. “Fifty percent of the people hate the Patriots, 50% love them but everyone watches them.”
Caligiuri was fired by the Kings after four years in Los Angeles. Some players had said some things about him to management. Call it philosophical differences.
Kings management told Caligiuri that they felt he was someone who needed “to run his own show.”
That is exactly what he is doing now after raising $1 million to launch Stadium Performance in 2014.
Players from the Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics would stop by the state-of-the-art facility but Caligiuri has shifted his focus to helping high school athletes get to the next level.
New England defensive end Chase Winovich was in the facility recently.
“I told him, ‘You don’t need me. You are as good as you can be,’” Caligiuri said. “He respected that.”https://105865b994fb3aa4ffcc78bf2c60f7f4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Instead, Caligiuri is more about developing younger athletes.
“I don’t like working with professional athletes but I’ll do it,” he said. “My focus is on the development and education of younger athletes and impacting their lives. “I want to give the high school athletes all of the resources that the professional athletes get,” Caligiuri said.
Caligiuri has weathered the pandemic well.
“I was closed for two weeks in April. That’s it,” he said.
Two weeks in April was a minor glitch.
A much bigger hurdle was thrown in front of him after he married Colleen in 2010. He was hit by a car and suffered a head injury while he was opening up Stadium Performance.
During the time he was treated it was found that he had Klinefelter Syndrome. It meant that he had the wrong number of chromosomes to have children.
“It’s very rare,” Caligiuri said.
There were six months of fertility treatments and an operation. It failed.
“That was probably the worst day of my life,” he said.
Happy ending: He and Colleen made the decision to adopt and today have a healthy little boy, Padraig Michael Francis Caligiuri. They are in the process of adopting a second child.
Caligiuri once backed up Jake Eaton at quarterback at Rutland High School and the two have remained close ever since.
When Caligiuri returned from the Super Bowl with the ring on his finger, Eaton went to Boston to celebrate with him.
“I am just so proud of him for what he has accomplished,” Eaton said. “I don’t know of anyone that hard working and ambitious.
“He has that blend of being book smart but also being street smart. You don’t find that a lot.
“And he is tough mentally.
“He is just wired different, always the smartest guy in the room and very driven. He was always going to be very successful.”
There have been imposing hurdles: Living out of the car. Being fired. Operating your own facility in the midst of a pandemic. Getting some devastating news from the doctor.
But Joe Caligiuri always pushed on, taking his own message to heart: “You’ll Never Know How Far You Can Go Until You Get There.”