WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 4, 2018 — Former West Liberty University wide receiver Vinnie Candelore recently made headlines with the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers in a rather unique fashion.
The 2013 WLU graduate custom designed and painted the cleats worn by Steeler tight end Jesse James during the Steelers’ Week 13 win against Cincinnati as part of a National Football League charity initiative.
James, a Penn State alumnus, supported the THON charity as part of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative. THON is the Penn State student-run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer.
Anthony Defeo told the story of the collaboration between Candelore and James on the popular Steelers’ blog, behindthesteelcurtain.com.
“Jesse grew up about 10 minutes from my house, we both played football and we had a lot of mutual friends. Last year, when the NFL started the “My Cause My Cleats” movement, Jesse was in search of an artist and one of our mutual friends connected us. This is actually the second year I did the cleats for him,” explained Candelore, who is now a resident of Charlotte, N.C.
Working as a freelance graphic designer and artist, he paints everything from bike helmets, cleats, shoes and more.
“Just about anything that can be painted, I’ve painted. I use a special kind of paint that is very durable and can decorate any kind of shoe. It has been a trial and error effort over the years but people order shoes on my website and have been happy with the result. They can last years sometimes.”
Candelore played three years of football at West Liberty, graduating with a degree in Art Education. He became familiar with athletic shoes and gear while working at Finish Line and also designs custom uniforms. He even designed the Hilltopper basketball team’s practice gear last year.
“It was cool to work with my alma mater,” Candelore said. “(Football) assistant coach Jeff Monteroso put me in contact with (basketball) Coach Howlett and I was able to design and produce the custom uniforms through the company that I work for regularly called Assist 2 Score.”
“Vinnie is one of the nicest, most genuine people and was an excellent student. He based his senior exhibition in the Nutting Gallery around the redesign of professional sports team uniforms, as well as reimagining WLU’s football uniform. It’s exciting to see how he has continued expanding his skill set and is enjoying a creative career,” said Brian Fencl, WLU associate professor of art and Candelore’s former professor.
Despite having relocated to North Carolina, Candelore’s family remains in Pittsburgh so he’s often in the area and remains a fan of West Liberty sports. “I’m always returning to visit family, especially at the holidays,” he said, “and every chance I get to watch the Hilltoppers, I take it.”
To see more of Candelore’s designs or order your own pair of custom shoes, please visit his webpage, candelorecustoms.com.
To read the original article covering his artistic work with the Steelers, click here.