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Holy Cross two-sport athlete receives Courage Award for being team leader despite medical issues

By Terry Boehmker
NKy Tribune sports reporter

Hamilton Scott downplays the fact that he earned seven varsity letters in football and basketball at Holy Cross High School despite the medical problems he has encountered. But the teenager’s positive attitude and perseverance were recognized last week when he received the Courage Award at the inaugural Greater Cincinnati Sports Awards presented by Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Hamilton Scott HC

Hamilton Scott was the starting quarterback on the Holy Cross football team for three seasons despite his medical issues.

Scott takes daily medication to prevent epileptic seizures and visits an oncologist every six months to monitor an inoperable brain tumor. But he didn’t let that stop him from playing quarterback on the football team and guard on the basketball team at Holy Cross.

“To me, I feel like this isn’t as big a deal as others think it is,” he said. “Things could be a lot worse. I’m just thankful for what I have and what I’m able to do. There’s some people who don’t even get an opportunity to play sports and go at it like I have.”

Scott began having seizures the summer after his freshman year at Holy Cross. While doctors were conducting tests, a CAT scan revealed a small tumor in his brain that was located in spot that made it inoperable. He takes medication to control the seizures and sees an oncologist every six months for additional scans to monitor the tumor. He said none of the doctors prohibited him from playing sports.

“I don’t think it’s affected my performance athletically,” Scott said of his medical issues. “I really haven’t thought much about any of it when I play. I have a competitive personality so when I’m out there I’m just thinking about how I can improve myself and help the team play better.”

Scott will continue his football career at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. When he reports for pre-season practice in a few weeks, he plans to compete for the starting quarterback position on the NCAA Division III team.

Hamilton Scott copy 2

Hamilton Scott

“The starting quarterback last year graduated so it’s kind of open,” he said. “There’s other quarterbacks there who know the system better than me so it’s going to be a challenge for me to come in and take that position, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot.”

Scott said he told the Wittenberg coaches about his epilepsy and tumor, but they didn’t have any objections to him joining the team. For the last few weeks, he has been driving to the campus a few miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio, to lift weights and participate in 7-on-7 passing drills.

An incoming freshman becoming the starting quarterback on any college football team is highly unlikely. But Holy Cross assistant football coach David Pandilidis knows Scott will be a valuable addition to the Wittenberg program.

Pandilidis is quarterbacks coach at Holy Cross. He worked closely with Scott during the three years that he ran the Indians’ offense. In his final season last fall, Scott passed for 1,304 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 900 yards and five TDs. He also kicked four field goals, converted 40 extra-point kicks and ran in a two-point conversion to score a total of 84 points.

In the letter Pandilidis submitted to recommend Scott for the Courage Award, he praised the player’s leadership qualities, especialy when a game was on the line.

“… our coaching staff made sure that the ball was in Hamilton’s hands because we knew his execution would be flawless and that his decision-making would be accurate. He never let his coaches down,” Pandilidis stated in the letter.

The assistant coach and player developed a close bond for another reason. Pandilidis is a cancer survivor himself and knows what it’s like to be diagnosed with a tumor.

“I am, quite frankly, most impressed by the courage of a teenager who not only endured a diagnosis of epilepsy but also absorbed the news that he has an inoperable brain tumor,” Pandilidis wrote in his letter. “I can tell you through personal experience that the uncertainty of ‘what’s next’ is a weight upon one’s shoulders that really never goes away.”

Scott said the support he got from his family, friends, teammates and coaches helped him deal with his medical issues. When he learned about another Holy Cross student who was dealing with epilepsy, Scott was willing to talk with him about how he handled it.

“I’ve never really thought of myself as in inspiration or anything like that,” Scott said. “When other people say that, it’s kind of humbling that they recognize that in me.”

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