Reteneller excelling on and off field for Holy Ghost

Joey Reteneller is happy Holy Ghost Prep is playing soccer this fall. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Joey Reteneller was stuck going to summer school.

But it wasn’t because he didn’t do well in school. In fact, it was the exact opposite.

Reteneller is a junior at Holy Ghost Prep High School, and the Somerton native has a very busy schedule thanks to his honors and advanced-placement courses, coupled with his ambitious soccer routine. So when the school offered him a chance to take physics over the summer, he jumped at the opportunity.

Even if it meant doing schoolwork over the summer months.

“It was hard because it was a tough class, and you’re doing it over six weeks, so it’s a condensed schedule,” Reteneller said. “It was hard. It was a six-week class, you have it three days a week for about an hour and a half, but then you have homework, tests and quizzes. You have to learn everything in a short period of time.

“It was great for me, though, because this year I have AP chemistry, and it would be difficult to have both sciences at the same time, so it made it easier for me. And now I have a study period to do my homework, which really helps with soccer. It gives me more time to do everything I need to do.”

Reteneller is happy he’s having a chance to play soccer. While Holy Ghost never nixed its season, it looked like the Firebirds were going to be without many opponents to play until they joined forces with three Catholic League teams, La Salle, Devon Prep and St. Joe’s Prep, to compete for the President’s Cup.

“It worked out great because we didn’t know who we were going to play until we found out from our school that we were going to play in this new league,” said Reteneller, who plays club ball for Radnor. “I was really happy because you didn’t really know what was happening. But we have a good schedule of teams not in the new league, like Neshaminy, and then we play the games against La Salle, Devon and St. Joe’s.”

It might be new opponents, but it’s not new faces.

Soccer is a tight community. And Reteneller, who started out with Fishtown, then went to COPA before hooking up with Radnor, has made a lot of friends through the sport.

Now, he’s seeing a few of them as adversaries.

“It’s great because there’s a guy from my club team on La Salle and a few go to St. Joe’s, but they aren’t playing soccer this year,” Reteneller said. “Soccer is fun because you’re friends with these guys, and then when the game starts, you’re enemies for as long as the game goes on, but when it’s over, you’re friends again. This league has great competition.”

And one of the best players in the league is Reteneller.

The centerback puts in a lot of work to anchor the Firebirds defense, and he’s looking forward to stacking up against the top players in his new league.

He started playing defense when he first started playing soccer at 4 years old when he played for Fishtown. There, he played for his father, an assistant coach who played soccer at North Catholic, and played with Union players Brandan Craig and Quinn Sullivan. He also learned to play defense, and while it wasn’t the most glamorous position, it was one he loved right from the start.

“It’s a really important position because you’re the last guy back there and you have to make sure nobody is scoring,” Reteneller said. “I love it, though. It’s a hard position, but I’ve been doing it my entire life, so I enjoy it.”

He’s hoping to do it some more next year.

Reteneller hasn’t picked a college yet, but he knows he wants to continue his soccer career, preferably at a Division I or II school, though he admits he’ll do anything to play somewhere.

He’s keeping all options open, but he knows it has to be a school that offers his major.

“I want to major in physical therapy and exercise science, something in that direction,” said Reteneller, who maintains a 3.9 grade point average at Holy Ghost. “I’ve always been, as an athlete, always intrigued by physical therapy and exercise science. If I continued that, it interests me, I would do better and love my job.

“I know I want to play soccer. I love soccer. That will be the next thing, find a good school where I can get a good education, a school that has my major and a place I can play soccer. That would be a perfect fit for me.”

Reteneller hopes his junior year will open the eyes of some college scouts.

He has an impressive resume away from soccer, too.

He’s a member of Athletes Helping Athletes, he’s on the sports debate team and he is also an Unum Leader, where he helps younger students get acclimated to Holy Ghost.

“I love Holy Ghost, it’s great for academic and athletics,” Retenneller said. “(Sports debate) is fun, we did a lot more last year because there was more sports going on. We’ll debate things about games or players. And being an Unum leader is great. It’s fun to help younger kids find their way around or show them what to do. It’s been great.”