Each time Damian Amiruddin walks into his school's gymnasium, he takes a glance at a sign that exemplifies everything that he's all about.
The sign reads "Hard work + Athletics = Success."
"All our coaches want you to perform in the classroom to the best of your ability before you can play on the field," Amiruddin said. "All the coaches emphasize schoolwork. Put that first."
Because Amiruddin puts his schoolwork first before he takes the field for East Rockaway, the Rocks' ace was named this year's recipient of the Michael Capozzi Award during the Nassau County All-Star Awards Dinner Wednesday night at the Uniondale Marriott.
The scholarship award is presented by the Nassau baseball coaches in memory of Michael Capozzi, the son of former Carle Place baseball coach Ralph Capozzi, and the award is given based on athletic performance, academic achievements, school involvement and letters of recommendation.
"It's a great honor and it means a lot," said Amiruddin, who earned a 1910 on his SAT and is the valedictorian of his class with an unweighted 95.923 GPA. "This shows how hard I've worked and how I've given back to my community over the years."
From Paul Paino's perspective, Amiruddin was extremely impressive in his work with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. Paino is the chairman of the Capozzi Scholar Athlete Committee and Wheatley's coach. "He was organized, active and instrumental in raising money for people who needed relief from the hurricane damage," Paino said. "His guidance counselors, his teachers, the letters of recommendation from them, they all said that he was a class role model and leader."
Amiruddin, who will major in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in the fall, had one of his finest seasons on the mound for the Rocks, who lost in the county semifinals to Wheatley, the eventual county champ, in three games.
The series went the distance thanks to Amiruddin, who struck out six and walked one in a complete-game win in East Rockaway's 4-2 victory over Wheatley in Game 1 on May 12. East Rockaway coach James Hickey described his righthander as "tough."
"He just competes very hard," Hickey said. "He doesn't get rattled. He loves the game."
More importantly, Hickey is most impressed with how Amiruddin carries himself off the field, hence being named the award winner.
"This award really stands for being an all-around student-athlete and a good character person," Hickey said. "He's really just a solid young man and everything you want in a student-athlete."