Chris DiVirgilio: Sports ‘N Sopkes Photographer
By Kasey Kaler
Photo by Loren Worthington
For as long as he can remember, Chris DiVirgilio grew up wanting to be two things: a police officer and a writer.
While those two careers don’t necessarily fit together, it was all a part of his master plan.
He always loved fiddling around with cameras and photography, piecing together video segments, and writing.
When he was 17, DiVirgilio enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“I’d joined the military to help pave the way to becoming a police officer,” DiVirgilio said. “I never thought the military would have such an impact on my future.”
Facing budget cuts in 1990, DiVirgilio accepted a separation package.
DiVirgilio was right, the military did pave the way. When he returned home to Chicago, he attended the police academy, achieving his goal of becoming a police officer. He stayed on the force for five years before deciding that he and law enforcement were not an ideal fit and made his way to Arizona.
Until then, DiVirgilio had never shared his writing with anyone. However, after relocating, he joined an online writing group. Seeing positive results, DiVirgilio began to think this dream was worth pursuing.
In 2002, he reenlisted in the Marine Forces Reserve in order to complete 20 years of military service. Shortly after, he enrolled at Phoenix Community College, where he ultimately received a degree in journalism.
He began writing for various publications, building his portfolio. Then, the dream job came calling.
“It’s funny because this job actually found me,” DiVirgilio said with a laugh. “I had a neighbor who told me to put my résumé in [Paralyzed Veterans of America] and when I went in, they hired me as an intern.”
What started out as an assistantship to help with the development of the Sports ‘N Spokes website and write an occasional story, morphed into DiVirgilio’s ultimate dream job. He now works as a web-content manager for the website he helped develop and a staff writer for Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and Sports ‘N Spokes, located in Downtown Phoenix.
Now, you’d be hard-pressed to miss him at any adaptive sporting event.
When asked what drew him into adaptive sports, DiVirgilio doesn’t miss a beat.
“The passion that’s on display,” DiVirgilio said. “It’s not like pro[fessional] sports, they’re there to be athletes. And they’re amazing athletes.
“They’re proof that you should be passionate about what you do. If you’re passionate then that’s what is going to shine and come through in your work.”
DiVirgilio should know, after all, passion radiates from him when discussing his time spent in the profession.
The guy has covered everything from a pick-up wheelchair basketball game to the prestigious and newly introduced Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games were introduced in 2014 and “use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.”
DiVirgilio recalls the entire event to be awe-inspiring but mentions a special interaction with two soldiers from the Jordanian army.
“My Arabic is just a little rusty so I did the entire interview using Google Translate,” DiVirgilio said. “So, they set up their phones to translate to English and I set up mine to translate to Arabic and it was just awesome.”
DiVirgilio ended his story with a smirk. “I got to write this pretty kick-ass story after,” he said.
Kasey Kaler is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Kasey has spent four years in public relations internships for various Arizona sports organizations while also remaining true to her passion for producing content, writing, and editing for a multitude of platforms. In 2015, Kasey began pursuing a Master of Arts in Sports Administration at Gonzaga University.