By Paul Ryan | 4/27/14 10:00 AM
Being a professional athlete is not just about playing the game you love at the highest level, it is also about being a positive role model out in the community. Whether it be feeding the needy, bringing attention to their favorite cause or promoting the sport to underserved communities, MLL athletes do their part.
Just like Nick Colleluori did when he founded the HEADstrong Foundation to draw awareness to blood cancers, several MLL athletes devote their free time raising awareness to causes near and dear to them. Each month we will profile an MLL athlete that encompasses the same selfless core values Nick had and name them the HEADstrong Humanitarian of the Month.
This month, MLL recognizes Machine midfielder Dominique Alexander for his outstanding community work in the city of Columbus.
Alexander arrived in Ohio’s capital city back in 2009 as a freshman at The Ohio State University. As a Buckeye, Alexander amassed 95 points, was named an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete all four years and co-captained the team alongside now-teammate Logan Schuss. However, it was also at Ohio State where Alexander truly started donating his time to others.
“Coach [Nick] Myers is really, really good at giving back,” Alexander said. “Each guy on the team is required to do at least 10 hours of community service, but we would always try to get more than that. Playing for Coach Myers gave me a chance to give back and see exactly what community service is all about.”
Before his senior year, the Machine selected Alexander with the 33rd pick in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft. When the Buckeyes were knocked out of the NCAA tournament, the Baldwin, N.Y., native joined the Machine and played in the remaining 10 games of the season, registering a goal in the team’s final game against the New York Lizards.
“Last season was awesome,” Alexander said. “Coming in right from college, there’s an adjustment period because the game is a little bit faster. The best thing that happened last season was that it prolonged my career because as soon as we lost to Cornell in the quarterfinals, both Logan and I were playing within a week for the Machine. It was nice for me to say, ‘hey, I’m a professional athlete and I can play at the highest level.’”
With the Machine, the rookie also had the opportunity to reunite with an old friend. In Ohio, Alexander joined his buddy Scott Rodgers, who was traded to the Machine earlier in the year.
“His dad is the reason I’m playing lacrosse,” Alexander recalls. “Our dads used to work together and his dad introduced me and my dad to the sport of lacrosse, so from that standpoint, I’d say he’s like the big brother I never had. I was pumped when he was traded here and he’s been able to show the ropes. He’s taken me under his wing and he’s definitely one of the guys on the team I look up to the most.”
Now just because Alexander became a professional did not mean he gave up on community service – in fact it did just the opposite. On the first day of training camp this year, the Machine did six hours of community service, hosting lacrosse clinics, travelling to the Ohio State James Cancer Hospital and heading to the Ronald McDonald House. At each event, Alexander stole the show, staying longer than any other player.
“It was eye opening,” Alexander said. “We had one patient who looked really glad to see us and you could see it on their faces – it was a midday, pick-me-up of someone with a different face besides coming in there with scrubs on, running tests. You could tell it meant a lot to them and their families so it was definitely good to stop by there and experience that.
“I think the biggest thing, especially with pro athletes, is it’s nice for the fans,” Alexander continued. “At the Ronald McDonald house we were able to play Monopoly and then just talk with them and show them that we’re everyday people. Then for the sport of lacrosse, especially in Ohio where it’s not a top tier sport yet, to be able to grow the game, have people put names to faces and put faces to organizations, it can really go a long way for creating a fan base and support for one another.”
Dominque Alexander goes above and beyond when it comes to helping others. It’s not because he’s told to or because someone makes him do it, but because he loves to do it. Very few people have the ability to light up a room like Dominique and that is why he is April’s HEADstrong Humanitarian of the Month.
“I think the biggest thing for me, it proves that no matter what you’re going through on the field or in life, there are people who are going through real struggles and it puts things in perspective. I’m able to do what I love and there are a lot of people that can’t, so it really makes you grateful for everything that you do have and helps you make the most of things. That’s what it does for me.”