By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
Geneva girls soccer coach Brian O’Dell believes that Shelby Domino is one of the smartest girls at Geneva High School. Just don’t mention the subject of English to the senior.
“I can pick up a biology book or AP calculus and it’s no big deal, but some of the stuff I have to read for English, I just can’t comprehend,” Domino said as she rolled her eyes and smiled through the braces covering her teeth.
For O’Dell, a junior high math teacher, what’s going to be even more difficult to comprehend will be how he is going to replace Shelby on the soccer field next fall.
Domino is the 2012 Coaches’ Ashtabula County Girls Soccer Player of the Year. It’s just one of many awards that the defensive midfielder has piled up for the 2012 season. As a four-year letter winner for the Eagles, she was named first team All-Premier Athletic Conference, second team All-Cleveland area, received the team’s “field general” award and played in the greater Cleveland area all-star game, hosted by Baldwin Wallace College.
No individual accomplishment, however, meant as much to her as the girls she played with.
“The season was a bit of a roller coaster for us,” Domino said. “I love my team; we had 11 seniors this year and were a great class. We were one of the tighter senior classes you’ll ever see. I’m really happy that we were able to finish with a winning season and get past the first round of the playoffs.”
The Eagles posted a 9-7-2 record and had 10 shutouts this season. The team advanced to a sectional championship game before falling to Beaumont.
O’Dell knew coming into the season that Domino would be the team’s field commander.
“I’ve known Shelby for a long time,” O’Dell said. “The kids listen to her, she’s a great leader. She’s always thinking straight. Soccer is an emotional game, it’s very physical but Shelby’s always thinking under control.
“I know she’s going to control the game out there. I know she’s going to make good decisions. She’s one of the smartest girls in the whole school. She reacts but she doesn’t retaliate. A lot of girls look up to her for that.”
Teammate Emily O’Dell has known Shelby since they were in first grade together.
“She’s (Domino) always been into soccer,” Emily said. “We’d go to a birthday party and we’d wind up kicking the soccer ball around and Shelby was always the best.
“She’s definitely somebody that plays with all her heart. Even if she was not having a real good game, she always tried her best and would give everything for her team. She’s so unselfish; she would do anything for the team even if it meant moving from one position to one she might not prefer to play.”
Domino, who has played soccer since age 5, said playing in the All-Greater Cleveland All-Star Game was a thrill.
“There were a lot of scouts and college coaches there as well as just a lot of people to watch the girls show off their talent, it was a big honor,” Domino said.
Her proudest moment of the season though was when the Eagles played the fourth-ranked team in Ohio. O’Dell could not be at the game against Gilmour Academy as he had checked himself into the hospital.
“The game was on a Thursday night, I was having chest pains the night before, so I drove myself to Tri-Point in Chardon,” O’Dell said. “They started running tests on me, it appeared everything was fine but then they wound up keeping me for like 18 to 20 hours.”
As his team was boarding the bus for the game, the news broke that O’Dell would not be with them for the game.
“We didn’t know he wasn’t coming until we got on the bus,” Domino said. “It was on everybody’s mind. We pushed ourselves like no other time that season. Everybody had in their mind to give a little bit more that night for the coach.”
As his team battled, O’Dell received updates on the game from his wife via text messages.
“My wife texted me at halftime, it was 0-0,” O’Dell said. “I knew the team they were playing was super good and I knew my kids were playing their hearts out. When the game was over, my wife texted me again, I looked at the phone and saw the final was 0-0. We had shut them out on their senior night, I was so proud I just started crying right there.”
With her scholastic soccer career behind her now, Domino still has plenty to keep her occupied before she returns to Eddie’s Grill, her summertime job. She is the business manager for the yearbook committee and serves as vice president of the National Honor Society.
After graduation next spring, Domino is considering attending Lakeland Community College to begin studying in the field of bio-technology.
When asked if she thought she’d be playing soccer at the next level, she just thought for a moment, smiled and said “it’s possible.”
Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.
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