Vassar Today

Brothers Cataldo

By Chris Lewis ’08
The Brothers Cataldo
The Brothers Cataldo

Steve (pictured right) and Vito (pictured left), known on campus as the Brothers Cataldo, get skeptical looks when they tell fellow students they never engaged in any sibling rivalry as youngsters growing up in West Islip, New York.

Until they were five years old, they wore exactly the same style and brand clothes, a difference in color or graphic the only way to tell them apart. As they grew older, they did everything together, from attending the same schools to rooting for the same professional sports teams. In New York, where household harmony during football season teeters on who cheers for the Giants or the Jets, Steve and Vito kept the peace by rooting for the same team — the Giants.

If you ask them when they last argued, you’ll get a long pause. “The last time I got mad at Steve was about three months ago,” recalls Vito. “He refused to pick me up from a party.”

“It was 3:00 in the morning!” says Steve.

The first time the Brothers Cataldo found themselves separated was as freshmen at Vassar. They lived apart that first year and again as sophomores “to get the full Vassar experience.” They rejoined as roommates in a dorm suite as juniors and now live together in the Town Houses as seniors.

Except when they are in class, you won’t find the Cataldos five feet from one another. They’re both starters on the men’s varsity lacrosse team. They work together at their on-campus jobs at PE World. They eat meals together. They train together. They attend campus activities together. Now in their 20s, the one thing they don’t do anymore is wear the same clothes. “I wouldn’t feel bad borrowing Vito’s clothes,” says Steve, “but I don’t.”

Even so, it can be a challenge to tell who’s who. For a week during their freshman year, the twins kept fellow Long Islander and VC baseball player Mike Murn ’08 stumped. “I was working with Vito in PE World and found out we were both from Long Island,” says Murn, a native of Huntington. “The next day, I continued the conversation, not knowing it was Steve instead of Vito. This lasted a week, back and forth with the Cataldos. I guess they were comparing notes each evening to keep me fooled.”

“We didn’t do it on purpose; it was natural,” says Vito, trying to keep a straight face. “But Mike wasn’t the first person we’d done that to,” Steve admits.

Coming from West Islip High School, one of the top five lacrosse programs in the country, and located on lacrosse-crazed Long Island, neither of the Cataldos were stars of the team. “Not even close,” confirms Vito. But the chance to play immediately in a burgeoning program and earn a top-notch education drew them both to Vassar, although the brothers say they didn’t plan to attend college together.

In their three seasons with the Brewers, the brothers have made an impact on an improving program. In 38 career games, Vito has scored 23 goals with 12 assists and 64 ground balls; Steve has recorded 19 goals, 16 assists, and 70 ground balls in 35 games. Both will likely end their careers among Vassar’s all-time leaders, in both games played and total points. Last season, Steve and Vito started all 11 of Vassar’s games, Vito ranking third on the team in goals and second in points and ground balls. Steve led the team in assists, points, and ground balls.

Both have excelled academically, too. Steve, who is majoring in biology, was an Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI) fellow the summer after his sophomore year, doing ecological research in Oneonta, New York, with Professor of Biology Robert Fritz. He plans to take a year off after graduating in May to intern at a hospital in West Islip. He will then apply to medical school — his top choice, Johns Hopkins.

Vito, a double major in chemistry and economics, was also an URSI fellow, doing atomic force microscopy with Associate Professor of Chemistry Sarjit Kaur and Assistant Professor Zachary Donhauser. By this time next year, he hopes to be working as a chemist for a pharmaceutical company, and then, eventually, pursue a career in forensic chemistry.