DUBOIS, Pa. – Dom Varacallo helped lead the DuBois Central Catholic boys’ basketball team to its only PIAA championship game appearance as a player in 2007, and now Varacallo is hoping to do the same as the new head coach of the Cardinals.
“I have had so many great memories at DCC,” Varacallo said. “It’s where I met some of my best friends. It’s where I learned the faith that has carried me through life. DCC is a special place, and it really does become your second family when you graduate. My hope is to give something back to the school that has given me so much.”
Varacallo, a first-team D9Sports.com All-District 9 player in 2008 when he ranked seventh in scoring in D9 at 17.7 ppg, scored 988 career points and most likely would have gone over 1,000 if he hadn’t torn an ACL his senior year (he played through the injury finishing his last six games with it). He was also the starting guard on the 2007 team that went to the PIAA championship game making a Cinderella run after placing fourth in District 9. He scored 11.5 ppg that season, including 17 in DCC’s stunning PIAA semifinal win over Kennedy Catholic that saw the Cardinals go on a 19-0 run in a span of 3:46 in the second half to overcame an 18-point deficit. He assisted on the game-winning basket by Andrew Welch with just over two seconds left throwing a pass while surrounded by three Kennedy defenders.
That DCC team played a breakneck speed at times, and it’s that kind of tempo Varacallo wants to bring back to DuBois.
“We want to play fast,” Varacallo said. “Obviously, the (Golden State) Warriors style comes to mind when I think about it. Everybody, including the bigs, are going to have the opportunity to step out and shoot it. This is going to be a fun brand of basketball for the kids to play and for the fans to watch.”
Varacallo’s immediate goals for DCC include getting more athletes out for basketball, increasing summer participation and building towards a run at districts and states.
“Even if a player has taken a year off or even a few years off I want them to play,” Varacallo said.
Varacallo is very familiar with the DCC program having spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach under Greg Lonesky, the Cardinals coach from 2012-2016. The final three years of that stint he served as the head junior varsity coach.
It’s going to be a family affair for Varacallo, as his older brother, Albert, will be his assistant coach.
Albert was a second-team D9Sports.com All-District 9 selection in 2006, one of four Varacallo brother to earn all-district honors for DCC (Matt was a first-team selection in 2005 and a second-team choice in 2004, and Chris was a first-team selection in 2003).
“Albert and I have worked hard this summer on the DuBois Dream (a team in The Basketball Tournament), and we work really well together. Basketball is a passion we share, and it’s awesome we can use it as a vehicle to give back. My brother, Dr. Chris Varacallo, will also support the program and offer his expertise whether it be on the court or as a sports medicine doctor for University Orthopedics here in DuBois. He will be able to cover some of our games.”
It’s fitting Varacallo will be surrounded by so many family members as he embarks on his head coaching, considering he says his family has had the biggest influence on him in basketball.
“My parents and siblings were my first coaches growing up,” Varacallo, the youngest of the brothers, said. “I Have great memories playing HORSE as a young kid in the driveway with my father (the late Albert Varacallo), and he would always get me out on a reverse layup until I learned the move by watching him. Also, the 2-on-2 battles between my brothers and I were pretty intense. But, they always took the time after to show me how I could get better.”
After high school, Varacallo spent two years at John Carroll University where he played baseball, although his freshman year was like a redshirt year because he was still recovering from his ACL injury. He transferred to Duquesne om 2010 to live with Albert after his father passed away so they could get home easier.
“I graduated from Duquesne in May 2012,” Varacallo said. “I had a few opportunities to play basketball in college, but it just never seemed like the right thing with my ACL injury and my dad passing away.”
Varacallo works in Healthcare Administration for Christ the King Manor and is also the Director of the Free Medical Clinic in DuBois as well. He is married to Andrea (Marchand), who he met his freshman year at John Carroll. She is an Erie, Pa. native and a graduate of Erie McDowell High School. The couple has a son, Dominic Jr, who was born at the end of April.
“I am really looking forward to having him grow up around Central and around the basketball program,” Varacallo said.