by Michael Smith
Dom Giangrasso always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps since he was child.
His father, Charlie, was a longtime college football coach, making stops at multiple NCAA Division II and Division III teams around the nation as an assistant and head coach.
That was always Giangrosso’s dream to be a coach. His path to that goal was through becoming an educator.
“Watching my dad be around players and watching him interact with the kids and seeing the relationships he was able to build made me want to become a coach,” Giangrosso said. “I never really branched out to anything else. Coaching is always what I wanted to do.”
“My dad was a huge influence on me. He was coaching me up without knowing that he was coaching me up.”
After spending 11 years as a football and baseball coach and a social studies teacher, he’s going in a different direction as he’s stepping away from coaching to become the assistant principal at Grain Valley High School, replacing the retiring Mike Tarrants.
Giangrosso graduated from Winfield, Kansas, but did a lot of moving around during his childhood as his father got new coaching jobs periodically. He played baseball and studied at a community college in Kansas for two years before going to West Virginia University for a semester and getting his degree at Missouri Valley College.
He started out as a baseball and football coach for two years at Marshall High School before coming to Grain Valley High School in 2012. He said he had three interviews with the school before he was hired.
Giangrosso met his wife, Marissa, in Chillicothe and she ended up moving to Blue Springs. Once they got married, they decided they wanted to be in the Eastern Jackson County area.
“It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was home for me,” Giangrosso said of the city. “I heard a lot of good things about Grain Valley.”
Giangrosso was a special teams coordinator and an assistant for the baseball team for nine years, and he said he’s built special relationships with the players.
Now, he’ll be helping students in a different way as an assistant principal and he noted that he has some big shoes to fill.
“Following Mike is going to be hard because he’s such a presence,” Giangrosso said. “He’s had a huge influence on me as a coach and a teacher. Him and Coach (David) Allie are the ones who opened my eyes and they told me, ‘You need to be a school leader. You need to be one not only coaching wide, but academically and instructionally.”
“Being able to follow Mike has been great. There are a lot of aspects in which I want to be a lot like him. I will take it as a big honor to be in his place.”
In recent years, Tarrants has given Giangrosso more opportunities to take on administration-type tasks, and the 11-year educator thrived at it.
“I always saw myself more as a coach,” Giangrosso said. “Mike started giving me more responsibilities and opportunities to be in front of people, and I realized, ‘Hey, I am pretty good at coaching teachers, too and developing a culture with the student body.’
“I was a little hesitant because I always identified myself with sports and now I get to coach 1,400 kids instead of just a small number of kids at your position. My No. 1 goal is to build relationships with the student body. But part of my responsibility is discipline and there will be times I will have to be a hard-nosed, Mike Tarrants type.”
He said he will definitely miss coaching but is looking forward to a new opportunity. That doesn’t mean he still won’t be involved with sports, though.
“The part I love the most about coaching is building relationships with the kids,” Giangrosso said. “I will still be there, and I will see them in the hallways and I will be at every game.
“I will probably be in Coach Allie’s office a couple of times a week and we will talk about football. I will find a way to make it work.”
Dom Giangrasso has been named Assistant Principal at Grain Valley High School, transitioning his passion for coaching to school leadership. Photo credit: Grain Valley Schools