Harrison Middle School student makes impact in Baldwin football program
Despite his small frame, Dom Giorgianni became a big part of the Baldwin High School football program this season.
The Harrison Middle School eighth-grader quickly found a place as a dynamic team manager who fit in well with both players and coaches.
He spent numerous hours over the summer and early part of the season filming practices, setting up equipment on the field and distributing uniforms.
Unfortunately, a serious bicycle accident ended his season in late September, but Giorigianni already is looking forward to rejoining the Fighting Highlanders’ football program next year.
Giorgianni, 14, always has loved football. He would talk about football endlessly with his middle school computer teacher, Pete Wagner.
Wagner, Baldwin’s head football coach, soon realized the team manager position would be a perfect fit for Giorgianni.
“Dom would always ask me how the team was doing, and who we were facing the next week,” Wagner said. “He had leukemia at an earlier age, so he’s not allowed to have a really active lifestyle.”
According to Giorgianni, his mother, Gina, would not let him play football.
“It’s hard-hitting but so fun to watch,” Giorgianni said.
“Dom was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old,” Gina said. “He relapsed when he was 6. He’s been through a lot. The radiation stunted his growth. All the other kids were growing faster and bigger than him. He was never able to participate in sports like all the other kids.
“He never complains about anything. You would never know by talking to him how much he’s gone through.”
When Wagner called and offered the Baldwin football manager position to Giorgianni, his mother was thrilled.
“Finally, my little boy would be able to be part of a team,” Gina said. “I truly am so happy for him that he is finally out there doing something.”
The team manager role allows Giorgianni to get close to the sport he loves without actually playing the game.
“When I started, the team didn’t know me,” Giorgianni said. “But they didn’t bully me at all. They treated me like I was part of the team.”
Baldwin’s senior quarterback, Doug Altavilla, enjoyed having Giorgianni helping out during preseason training camp and at practices.
“He could always put a smile on your face. He was a good kid to have around,” Altavilla said. “He made up nicknames for a lot of the coaches and players. He added a lot to our practices.”
Wagner said Giorgianni’s outgoing personality was an added benefit in the coach’s room, as well.
“One of the coaches would crack a joke and he would come back with a really quick response,” Wagner said. “He really added a lot to the mix.”
Besides his good nature and quick wit, Giorgianni provided important services, including filming many of the practices for the coaches’ review.
“When you’re coaching and in the heat of practice, there’s only so much you can catch,” Wagner said. “We’ve been able to critique the film that Dom takes. He has been a great resource for us.”
Giorgianni worked diligently at perfecting his filming techniques to ensure he provided the coaches with the best product for their review.
“He would take it home and work on it at night,” Wagner said.
In September, while riding his bicycle near his house, Giorgianni fell and broke his femur in several places.
“I was going way too fast, and I flipped,” he said. “When I landed, my leg was in a weird position. They had to call an ambulance.”
Giorgianni underwent surgery and missed weeks of school. He was in a wheelchair for awhile, but since has graduated to crutches.
“The bike accident put a damper on things,” Gina said. “But the team was great. They sent a big basket to Dom when he was in the hospital.”
Despite this setback, Giorgianni is looking forward to reprising his role as team manager next season.
“Seeing how determined and focused he was to excel in his life was inspiring to me and the other members of the team,” Altavilla said.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.