Saturday, December 03, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Scalia Pushes Past Setbacks for Super Senior Season


Dom Scalia finished his career with the North Branford baseball team by earning All-Conference and All-State honors while leading the T-Birds as a two-time captain as a senior.

Photo courtesy of Dom Scalia

Dom Scalia finished his career with the North Branford baseball team by earning All-Conference and All-State honors while leading the T-Birds as a two-time captain as a senior. (Photo courtesy of Dom Scalia)

Dom Scalia had to battle through numerous injuries on his way to being named a captain and then making All-Conference and All-State in his senior season with the North Branford baseball team. Dom refused to let those injuries hold him back and shined on the diamond for the T-Birds as a senior, earning Dom an opportunity to play baseball at the collegiate level.

When he was a toddler, Dom was given a little red bat by his father Dominic and would hit Wiffle balls with it. Dom’s father Dominic and mother Maria always told him that hit the ball with a level swing. At the age of five, Dom went from swinging his red bat to competing in baseball at the tee-ball level.

Dom played youth baseball through 7th grade and then competed for the Connecticut Bombers at age 12. During the summer heading into 8th grade, Dom played for the Long Island Titans. Dom fell in love baseball and felt grateful to be able to play as much as he did while growing up.

“I was always looking to play. In my 7th-grade year, I was on three different teams at the same time,” says Dom. “It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed and something I’ve always wanted to do.”

As he entered high school, Dom joined the North Branford baseball team and immediately became a varsity starter for the Thunderbirds. Dom’s ample experience on the travel circuit helped him make a smooth transition to the varsity stage. While he was now facing older competition, Dom found success at North Branford in his freshman campaign.

“It was definitely different. Playing travel ball, I saw some good competition. It helped prepare me,” Dom says. “But it was a big change. Kids were older. I’m competing against 17- and 18-year olds. I think overall I was pretty successful for my age.”

Dom’s sophomore season was canceled due to COVID-19. In the summer heading into his junior year, Dom underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. Following the surgery, Dom dedicated himself to doing everything he could to come back stronger. In the first at-bat of his junior season, Dom hit a home run that traveled farther than any ball he’s hit in his career.

Unfortunately, Dom had to deal with more injury issues during his senior season this spring. Dom went from pitching to playing the outfield to being a corner infielder to solely playing first base. Dom wound up settling in nicely at the first base position for the Thunderbirds. Dom knew that his teammates would have his back and he would have theirs no matter where he was playing.

“I had a lot less pressure. I didn’t have to worry about if I had to make this throw, if it was going to hurt, or if I was going to airmail it because I’m injured,” says Dom. “I trust my teammates. I know they make good throws, and I know they’ll make the plays. If they didn’t, I was pretty confident in my ability to pick them up. I’m a pretty big target out there, which helps.”

Dom helped North Branford have a great 2022 season that saw the T-Birds post a record 16-9 while advancing to the semifinals of the Shoreline Conference Tournament and the quarterfinals of the Class S State Tournament. While it took some time to find their groove, Dom felt pleased to see T-Birds rally in the second half as they learned how to play together as a group. As he dealt with his injury, it meant a lot to Dom that every player and coach on the team stuck by his side until the very end.

“It was great. We had a lot of expectations as a team. We came into this year knowing we had a lot of talent and knowing we could make a run,” Dom says. “We started off a little slow, but we started playing for each other and got big-time hits when we needed them. We had a good year.”

When the season came to a close, Dom was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team and the All-State Class S Team alongside fellow senior captain Ryan Michonski. When he found out about the accolades he had received, Dom felt honored to be recognized by numerous coaches across the state of Connecticut.

“It means the world to me, especially because I was able to receive those honors with my co-captain Ryan Michonski,” says Dom. “It’s a great feeling knowing that so many coaches around the state of Connecticut believe in you and know you’re a talented player.”

After being named one of North Branford’s captains as a junior, Dom continued serving in that role with Michonski in his senior campaign. During the past two years, Dom has come out of his shell and emerged as a leader for the T-Birds. Dom figured out the best way to lead the team and what his teammates needed from him and Michonski in order to succeed.

“It has been great. I’ve always been kind of shy, even on the baseball field. But my junior year and heading into this year, I don’t know if it’s being named captain or what—my leadership skills have grown exponentially,” Dom says. “I’ve figured out how to be a leader without being a boss and how to not just be in the background.”

Dom will continue his baseball career at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford. St. Joseph, which was formerly an all-women’s school, will begin offering baseball as a varsity sport in the 2023-’24 academic season.

Dom says that St. Joseph Head Coach Adam Goss provided him with a lot of support while he was dealing with his injuries. As he graduates from North Branford, Dom believes that playing baseball for the Blue Jays will be a great opportunity for him.

“It has always been a goal of mine,” says Dom of playing college baseball. “Freshman year, I had some coaches interested in me, but then COVID happened, and I got surgery. It was tough to reach out and get in contact with schools, but I did the best I could and I think this is the best opportunity available to me.”

As he looks forward to playing in college, Dom says that he will never forget his time on the baseball diamond at North Branford. From his days at the youth level through his senior season, Dom was competing next to a group of friends who helped him overcome any setbacks. For all the ways that he’s contributed to the T-Birds, Dom will forever feel grateful about everything that the North Branford baseball program has done for him.

“Looking back, I wouldn’t ask for anything more. I’m going to miss high school baseball so much,” Dom says. “I know college is going to be great and, if I could play beyond that, that would be amazing, but North Branford was such a small town. You know everyone. You’re playing with your best friends. You grow up playing with them. It’s the best opportunity ever.”

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