Western Reserve star gives credit to parents

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Dominic Velasquez, center, a Western Reserve High School senior, won this year’s Byrd Giampetro Scholarship Award which was presented Sunday during the Curbstone Coaches football recognition banquet.

YOUNGSTOWN — Dominic Velasquez looks over at his mother, Sharon, knowing how much her support has meant to him. It wasn’t just that. Her constant motivation was a source of his inspiration.

Dominic’s parents, Kevin and Sharon, are the reason their son is successful. The drive, organization are just parts of his whole being.

“She’s my heart and soul,” Dominic said of his mother. “I think everyone in my family resembles a little bit of myself.”

He stood there with 13 other nominees, waiting for his name to be called. Dominic, who was wearing a blue suit with pattern tie and white dress shirt, didn’t expect Sunday to be his day.

The people at the circular table, including Western Reserve High School football coach Andy Hake and some of Dominic’s former football teammates, stood as his named was called for this year’s Byrd Giampetro Scholarship Award at Sunday’s Curbstone Coaches Football Recognition Banquet.

The applause became infectious as the remainder of those inside the Mount Carmel Banquet Center started to stand as well, applauding the efforts of this talented young man.

He was awarded a weighted bronze football trophy with his name inscribed on the bottom. It and the $1,000 scholarship accompanying the award go to a senior athlete who displays unique qualities off the field of play.

“That was unbelievable,” Velasquez said. “I would’ve never expected that. I didn’t even expect to get this award, I’m not going to lie. With all those people, some of their accolades are unparalleled.

“Just to get that award is unbelievable.”

He’s being modest. Really, he is.

There were plenty of 4.0 students nominated, but only Velasquez had national recognition. He was one of 100 students given the Emperor Science Award. There was the Yale Bassett Award for Community Service, given to the top 20 juniors. He even did a cancer research project named “Global Incidence of Ocular Cancers,” performed in concert with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

If you haven’t guessed, he’s going to become an optometrist one day — after his undergraduate degree and medical school.

Not bad for someone destined to be Western Reserve’s valedictorian before heading off to a school in the United States.

Ohio State has offered a full scholarship academically, while Boston College, North Carolina and Cincinnati are possibilities as well.

His decision isn’t close as he’s waiting for other schools to get back to him in the next month or two. Yale, Georgetown, Virginia, William and Mary and Drexel are some others offers.

Wherever Velasquez goes, there’s only one place he’ll call home — Berlin Center.

“It was a real community feeling and it was something that I don’t think ever could be replicated anywhere else,” Velasquez said.

Hake, usually a gregarious figure in his own right, was humbled by his quarterback, who led the Blue Devils to the postseason. Hake deflected the credit for Dominic’s success, not just on the football field, but mainly away from those Friday night lights at Western Reserve High School, even though his former player recognized him during the acceptance speech.

“It’s a representation of the school,” said Hake, who said this was his first nominee for the Byrd Giampetro Scholarship Award. “I’m flattered by the credit. Coaches get too much credit and too much blame.

“It’s his parents. His parents deserve a lot of the credit.”