It was late September 2003. The No. 5-ranked Sto-Rox Vikings were playing host to the Burgettstown Blue Devils in a Black Hills Conference football game. Sto-Rox senior quarterback Adam DiMichele had already established himself as one of the best athletes in the state.
After a sluggish first half where Sto-Rox held a meager lead of three points over Burgettstown, DiMichele led a strong second half charge, outscoring the Blue Devils 33-0 en route to winning 46-10. In the game, DiMichele eclipsed the 5,000-yard passing mark by throwing for 145 yards and three touchdowns, adding to an already impressive collection of accolades. But even more memorable for DiMichele in that game were the accomplishments of his two younger brothers.
Sophomore Alex and freshman Anthony were developing stars on the Sto-Rox football team.
During the game, Adam connected with Anthony for a 16-yard touchdown—Anthony’s first career high school reception. And also during the game, Alex intercepted a Burgettstown’s pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Despite a historic game for Adam, he was happier for the successes of his brothers.
“That was awesome for us as a family,” Adam said. “We were really proud of each other’s accomplishments in the game. With my brothers being younger than me, it made me really proud to see them have breakout games.”
It was an unforgettable moment for a family whose lives are so intertwined with each other through sports. In addition to Adam, Alex and Anthony, older brother Dom was a football player and younger brother Nico played football as well. And the DiMichele sisters, Tasha and Tanya, were accomplished high school softball players in their own right.
Growing up, the DiMicheles were constantly on the move to different sporting events, never allowing the family to have a dull moment.
“There was always a game to go to,” Adam said. “Somehow my parents made it work…I was very blessed that my parents were willing to help me so much in my life.”
The football bug started in the family with an uncle who played quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh. Older brother Dom followed suit and then Adam found his love at football—but it took some time.
Despite being a standout athlete growing up, Adam really never played football before high school. But in high school, at the pestering of his high school English teacher who knew of Adam’s athletic prowess in basketball and baseball, Adam decided to give football a shot.
The game wasn’t completely foreign to him, however. He had played flag football at the Boys & Girls Club and in local pick-up games against neighboring towns. But football presented a different animal for Adam because he was still inexperienced. It became a challenge for him to be more than just someone playing football; he wanted to become a football player.
“I really enjoyed each and every sport,” Adam said. “I didn’t get much time off, but I also didn’t want to do anything else. I didn’t want to just sit at home after school, I wanted to practice.”
And practice he did, but it didn’t fully hit Adam that he may have a future in football until the summer after his sophomore year in high school, when he attended a football camp at Syracuse University.
At the camp, Adam displayed the natural athleticism that made him the AP Pennsylvania Class AA Basketball Player of the Year for 2003-2004 and a 2005 Major League Baseball draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays. He impressed so much that the coaches in the camp let him with the seniors despite being just a junior.
“That moment just made me feel like I could really compete at football,” he said.
His last two years in high school would help Adam become the all-time leader in passing yards in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League history, in addition to being a consensus All-State selection in football twice. In a little more than four years of serious football, Adam emerged into one of the state’s top players, breaking Pennsylvania high school records that NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Joe Namath held.
Adam’s prowess at football more importantly helped the development of his younger brothers—of whom Adam is particularly proud. His younger brothers embraced the challenge of trying to replicate the success of their brother.
“I loved it actually, I always had to live up to his billing,” Anthony said. “So I just had to work that much harder to keep the name going strong and follow the successes of Adam.”
But Adam was always there, too, to lend a helping hand to his brothers, seemingly trying to improve their game as much as his own.
“Adam definitely tried to help me and Anthony out whenever he could,” Alex said. “Obviously, he had his own stuff to worry about, but he was always there for us when he could.”
In addition to trying to replicate their brother’s success on the gridiron, Alex and his brother had another reason for trying to become great football players.
“Our parents always got stuff for us, it seemed like they never said ‘no’”, he said. “Becoming good enough at football to earn a scholarship was a big drive for us so that our parents wouldn’t have to pay for a college education.”
Having a house full of football players striving toward the same goal gave the family an unique household atmosphere—one Alex would not change for a moment.
“It’s amazing, we all have different things we bring to the table,” Alex said. “We’ll argue about who the best players in the league are, we’ll go to a park by our house and play three-on-three basketball. We’ll play Madden against each other and that is competitive. There is no doubt we are extremely competitive with each other, but it’s all in good nature.”
They often would join their competitive forces together with pick-up football games against neighboring towns—a place where Anthony cultivated his love of football.
“We would go to a local park and play tackle without any padding or anything,” he said. “It was pretty much the DiMicheles versus and from those games, I knew I loved football.”
And all three have achieved their intermediate goals of playing college football—and have done it well.
Adam played two seasons of baseball at Okaloosa-Walton College in Florida before the love of football brought him back to Temple University, where he had three sensational years for the Owls. In 2009, he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and had an impressive showing in his preseason debut. He has since spent time in the Canadian Football League and is currently training for the 2011 season.
Alex started out at Temple as a fullback, but transferred to Robert Morris University, where he switched positions to linebacker and was recently named Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a fitting award as he is considered one of the top linebackers in the Football Championship Subdivision.
And Anthony is not without his own list of accomplishments, having been one of the nation’s top defensive backs the past two seasons at Holy Cross. He was named first-team All-Patriot League in 2009 and second team this past season. To date, Anthony’s talent has brought NFL scouts to Holy Cross’ campus in Worcester, Massachusetts, and he has had the opportunity to meet with seven of them in person.
They credit much of their success to the strong work ethic instilled upon them by their family and their strong bonds with each other.
“It’s perfect the way we have it with our family,” Anthony said. “With Adam being a QB and me being a defensive back, it’s basically a game between you and the QB. Being able to talk with Adam about the game has been great for my development.”
Despite being older than Alex and Anthony, Adam says he has learned from his brothers, too.
“Oh yeah, they help me,” he said. “Football is common ground for all of us. We can relate to each other’s experiences. And by watching them play, I can pick up things in my own game that I can improve.”
Adam is scheduled to participate in a number of private workouts this spring, and has recently signed with the Erie Explosion of the Southern Indoor Football League, hoping to keep his arm fresh until his next opportunity comes. Both Anthony and Alex have just completed their final years of college eligibility and both plan on training to play professional football somewhere next year.
“I love football, and I want to remain part of the game as long as I can,” Alex said. “Once my shoulder heals up, I will be back out there trying to achieve my goals.”
Added Anthony: “I plan on playing at the highest level possible, whether that’s the league, the CFL or Arena. I just want the opportunity to continue playing a game I love.”
Regardless of where football takes each of them, they all know they can count on each other as an ear for frustration, an outlet for advice or a practice partner.