Keeping your grades up in school, working hard on the football field, and taking care of your mother with a lifelong illness was gratifying enough for Dominick Trautz of Guttenberg, quarterback for the North Bergen High School Bruins squad.
But getting surprised by three New York Giant football players who came to honor him for all his different efforts: Priceless.
That’s how Trautz felt on Sept. 12, when he was surprised at Bruins Stadium before his home opening game against Montclair High School, which was later postponed due to a lightning storm. Guttenberg has only a kindergarten to eighth grade school, so older students from the town go on to NBHS.
Henry Hynoski, Spencer Paysinger, and Brandon Myers of the Giants stepped onto the field and into Trautz’s neighborhood that night, surprising him greatly and giving him the thrill of a lifetime.
“I had no idea they were there,” he said. “They were just standing there talking.”
The players applauded him for his work on the football field and at home, and gave him two tickets to a Giant game.
“They said it was in honor of my hard work and dedication,” Trautz said. “They gave me the tickets and I was very appreciative. I honestly didn’t know it was happening. I was very shocked and surprised.”
Trautz got to use the tickets right away, seeing the Giants-Broncos game only days later, the “Manning Bowl” between brothers Peyton and Eli.
“It was a great game,” said the lifelong Giants fan. Dominick’s roots with the “Giants” go back to his youngest football days, when he was promoted to the Giants traveling team from the regular recreation football squad.
Keeping a secret
Trautz’s mother, Heather, who’s had multiple sclerosis since 15, was ecstatic when she found out in advance about her son receiving the honor. She had to do all she could to keep it a secret after Guttenberg officials told her they had arranged it.
“He had no clue. He was extremely surprised,” she said. “But for me to hold it in for two days was torture.”
Trautz said that the honor may have meant more for her than even her son.
“It means so much to me, because he deserves it,” she said. “He really, really 100 percent deserves it. I’m so grateful to everyone who put it together for him.”
And while her son’s accomplishments on the gridiron make her proud, what he’s done at home is even more impressive and valuable to her.
Dominick has been the man of the house for years, according to his mother.
That means helping her when her MS flares up and leaves her unable to walk or do a lot of other things. It also means helping take care of his younger brother Xavier, 11.
“He is my rock, him and my little one,” Heather said. “He’s my motivation. He’ll never let me say, ‘I can’t do that today.’ ”
Never allowing his mom to get depressed is one of the things he does best.
“He’s always, ‘Mom, you’re going to get through it,’ ” she said. “We motivate each other. He’s very positive.”
Besides his familial responsibilities, the senior quarterback is focusing on his football and getting his Bruin squad to the postseason after a couple of tough early losses. After that, there are thoughts of college football and maybe quarterbacking for Lafayette, Holy Cross, or New Hampshire.
Excelling in life
Wherever he goes to college, and whatever he does anywhere further down the line, his mother is certain he will excel and triumph.
“I know he’ll succeed in life,” she said. “I know whatever he chooses, it’ll be a smart decision, and I know that he will succeed in it.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.