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Graduating with honors - Nazareth, Xaverian standouts cap off stellar careers

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Len Smith of Nazareth Regional and Dominick Scavelli of Xaverian took some major special awards to climax and officially end their high school careers.

Smith was named student athlete of the year while Scavelli was chosen outstanding senior athlete at different times and, of course, for their respective schools. Smith received a trophy at an awards’ ceremony at Nazareth. Scavelli received his trophy at a special function at Xaverian.

Among the candidates for this award at Nazareth was baseball player and classmate Willie Gomez. Both were ranked among the top ten in their class for the award.

The 6’0”, 206-pound Smith averaged 13 points per game as a guard or forward on the hoop team.

“And I worked very hard in the classroom,” he recently said. “My academics as a student came first and athletics, meaning basketball, came second. I’m glad the teachers selected me for such an honor. I was very honored to receive the recognition.”

He graduated with a 92 academic average, which ranked him fifth in the senior class. Besides basketball his favorite activity was running. He will enter Division III Fredonia State College in the fall.

As a freshman, he was a member of the cross country team at the school and once the basketball season rolled around in his sophomore year he concentrated on the latter sport. He was coached by Todd Jamison and his staff.

His freshman coach at the time, Mike Hankins, told him to work on his conditioning and cross country would be a good preparation for basketball.

A four-year player, including three on the varsity, he started all four years with his high game 30 points against Msgr. Farrell of Staten Island as a freshmen,

“My coaches at Fredonia told me, ‘I’d make a good addition to the team and I have a lot of work to do. I’m a good defender on the ball and I can play good defense.

“I have to work on my ball handling, shooting, quickness, and speed. Whatever coach tells me to do, I’ll find a way to do it.”

Right now he is playing in a summer basketball league and he hopes to improve on his weaknesses.

“He has made tremendous progress in four years at Nazareth,” said assistant varsity coach Hankins. “He learned a lot, doesn’t take anything for granted, and in crunch time he ‘can do his thing.’ He has to learn how to pass the ball around more.”

Among his academic grades in the class room were 99 in physical education, 92 in mathematics, and 95 in religion.

Meanwhile, Scavelli posted a 5-0 record and a 1.36 earned run average on the mound in his senior year at Xaverian. Included in his pitching slate was 2-0 in the playoffs. He also saved three other games.

“The key to the season was teamwork, so much camaraderie, and talent, especially when we came back,” said the hurler, whose best pitch is his circle change-up. “We grew from day one.”

He graduated with a 95 scholastic average, getting an A in physical education, 95 in English and 100 in business and was nominated by the coaches and faculty at his school for the outstanding senior student athlete award.

“I was surprised, as can be, and was very proud in accepting the scholar athlete award,” Scavelli said. “I was shocked. Ten to 15 other kids in my class could have gotten it.”

Besides the award, he also received the Congressman’s Award from the school and the Best of Brooklyn award. He expects to put a baseball uniform on at Seton Hall University.

Scavelli competed in the Xaverian baseball program for four years, including his last two seasons on the varsity. However as a freshman, he suffered ligament problems in his elbow which sidelined him for half a season. He pitched and played first base but came his junior year he concentrated on pitching.

His best pitched game came against Archbishop Molloy during the last game of the regular season when Xaverian came on top, 3-2. In six innings he allowed one earned run and struck out five and walked one.

“I tried to get better every day with consistency,” the 6’2”, 180-pound athlete said. “My father [Steve] and assistant and pitching coach [Joe] Tomasulo helped me the most. In four years, Tomasulo gave me the confidence in being the type of pitcher I want to be.”

During the summer Scavelli is working for the Staten Island Yankees as a member of the grounds crew. He works almost every day for about 12 hours a day.

When time permits, he plays for a men’s league and in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, as he prepares to become a business major at Seton Hall University, specializing in finance.

He intends to be a walk on to the baseball squad at Seton Hall.

“If I make the team, it’ll be a great honor to play in the Big East Conference,” he said. “I love the campus at Seton Hall.”

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