As I grow older, I’m gaining an appreciation for old friends, not friends who are old — which is also increasingly the case — and not those who were friends long ago, but constant friends with whom I’ve shared a lifetime. For me one of the most constant of friends has been Rick Dominick. However, even as I claim my stake of friendship with Rick, I know he has an inner circle of devoted friends even longer enduring and more intimate than that which he and I share, and I’m only a little bit jealous.
Other than our college years, Rick and I have traveled in the same orbits for the majority of our lifetimes. He was a year ahead of me at St. Mary Elementary. In high school, after working under him as a sports editor, I succeeded Rick as editor-in-chief of the high school yearbook. After college, Rick was instrumental in bringing me back to our alma mater as an English teacher and coach, positions I held for ten years, and a year after I accepted a teaching position in Port Clinton, Rick finally followed me. Therefore, forty-seven of the forty-eight years I’ve spent in schools, as either a student or as an educator, Rick has been in the same building.
In an age when self-promotion is not only the norm but, in many cases, the expectation, Rick remains humble and most happy basking in the glow of others’ successes. His tenure as athletic director at PCHS has been marked by one accomplishment after another (upgraded facilities, unprecedented success among our sports teams, hosting numerous prestigious events, and playing a key role in conference realignment are a few amongst many others), yet not once, have I witnessed Rick seek recognition, much less credit, for his efforts.
Rick has always been a glutton for punishment as he has consistently sought out jobs that, if he’s lucky, he might please half of the people involved: coaching, officiating, guidance counselor, and athletic director. Despite regular criticism from those who believe they know better but have no idea of the many strings attached to the difficult decisions his jobs require, Rick remains not only unperturbed by but also affable toward his critics. The ultimate criterion for his decision making has always been the answer to the question “What is best for kids, the school, and the community.” Trust me, it is never “What is best for Rick Dominick.” He has always been and remains a consummate professional.
Unlike his volatile, heart-on-his-sleeve-wearing friend and longtime co-worker, meaning me, Rick has the patience of a saint and an even-keeled temperament that serves him well in his various positions. Far from rare are the phone calls from irate parents of both students and athletes, the teachers/coaches storming his office to address some misperceived slight or slip-up, the student made distraught by academic and teenage stresses, and the administrator asking for the nearly impossible. Yet, much more-often-than-not, they all leave his office with an assurance that their concerns will be addressed and all will be okay.
While wearing any of his hats, Rick has always known and modeled the truism that treating everyone fairly doesn’t necessarily mean treating them the same. As a result, he is often faced with disgruntled constituents whose displeasure he absorbs with remarkable grace, which is an increasingly rare talent in our current age of rage.
The number of students and athletes whose lives have been made better by Rick’s guidance and example are numerous. It’s a multitude that includes my oldest son, Taylor, who had the great fortune of playing freshman basketball for Coach Dominick. Taylor is now the head college basketball coach at Hiram College and living his dream while emulating many of the behaviors he witnessed under Rick’s tutelage. He will be the first to tell you of Coach Dominick’s influence on his career choice and his coaching style.
I picture Rick Dominick as a blend of the actors Tom Hanks and Alan Alda. He’s an everyman who rarely stands out in the crowd but without whose presence the crowd would be incapable of coalescing into a functional group. I think of him as the point guard on the basketball team who’d rather pass than shoot and who runs with his head down back to the defensive end of the court while the shooter raises his three fingers in celebration of the basket, which he never would have scored had the point guard not set him up for success.
Perhaps, the only hat Rick wears better than those already mentioned, including friend, is husband and father. Rarely have I met a man more devoted to his wife, Sherri, and his son, Cody, who is a math teacher following in many of his father’s footsteps as an educator and coach.
Although I never thought about it this way before, I can’t imagine my life without Rick Dominick in it.
If you enjoy my blog posts, you may like to receive an email notification whenever a new article is posted. If so, click on the Menu link above and select “Home,” scroll down to the bottom, and click the “Follow” button. You may preview or order my most recent novel, Island No. 6, below. – Always with gratitude and love, Ty