EVENDALE, Ohio — Mike Cappel, a legendary teacher and coach at St. Rita School for the Deaf, will be remembered for his passion for helping students.
"I grew up watching him coach, been in his classroom watching him teach,” said Angie Frith, St. Rita president. “He always had a smile and he had a true love for St. Rita.”
Cappel, who died Monday at age 72, taught and coached for 35 years at St. Rita before retiring a decade ago. Over the years, he coached six varsity sports, including football and girls basketball, and served as athletic director.
"He loved those students and he loved the teams and it was all about being a part of the team and making sure everybody got an opportunity to play,” Frith said. “I'll always remember that. He would do anything for any of those students at St. Rita and any of the staff.”
A West Sider and Elder High School graduate, Cappel served as a dorm advisor at St. Rita while a student at UC. After earning a degree in Special Education, Cappel and his wife Debbie moved across the country to his first teaching job at Oregon State School for the Deaf, and later to Indiana State School for the Deaf. A wrestler at Elder, he coached wrestling, baseball and track along the way.
In 1974, the Cappels came home and he continued his teaching and coaching career at St. Rita, specializing in government, history, economics and driver’s education.
Besides his passion for St. Rita, Cappel was a devoted family man. He and his wife Debbie were married 52 years and had three children, whom he coached. He was a big fan of the Reds and Elder teams.
Cappel’s family plans to hold a small private service with a Celebration of Life at a later date.