CHELMSFORD -- When it comes to succeeding in the games he plays at Chelmsford High or the game of life, Mike DeDonato relies on instincts to get ahead, drawing on his own family experiences as the youngest of four children.

The Lions' two-sport standout grew up in a loving family where he learned early on from his parents, David Sr. and Karen, and older siblings, Kelli, Lisa and David Jr., about the value of a good education and the importance of playing sports the right way.

More often than not an athlete's performance is based strictly on statistics, and the numbers DeDonato has produced over the course of his varsity career are exemplary.

DeDonato batted .350 in baseball last spring and was an MVC All-Conference selection for the second straight season.

Mike DeDonato of Chelmsford, who was named The Sun’s 2013 Male Athlete of the Year for his work on the field and the rink and in the community, poses
Mike DeDonato of Chelmsford, who was named The Sun's 2013 Male Athlete of the Year for his work on the field and the rink and in the community, poses with his parents, David and Karen DeDonato. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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He tallied 14 goals in hockey last winter, earning a berth on the MVC All-Star team, and has 5 goals and 3 assists through nine games this season. More importantly, DeDonato possesses a 3.7 grade-point-average while taking honors and advance placement classes.

Based on his accomplishments in the classroom, where he is a National Honor Society student, his productivity in sports and his community service work, DeDonato has been selected as The Sun's 2013 Male Athlete of Year.

"It's a big honor," said DeDonato. "It's always great to be appreciated for your accomplishments. It means a lot to me to get this award. It's hard to put into words."

There are times in every athlete's career when actions speak louder than words, and DeDonato is no exception.

"He's a great kid and I think a lot of his makeup has to do with his family upbringing," said Chelmsford baseball coach Mike O'Keefe. "He has a great work ethic, and that's in anything he does.

"He's certainly the type of student-athlete who you are proud he's in your program. When you have younger kids and you try to set an example, he's the type of kid you look to. He's a kid who excels athletically, and more importantly academically."

There's much more to DeDonato than the games he plays. He volunteers as an instructor for Chelmsford's youth hockey and baseball leagues. He's done fundraising cancer walks with his family that raised money for Lowell General Hospital and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. He's also a class representative and is involved in the DECA program.

"It's means a lot to me to help out in the community," said DeDonato, a captain on the Lions' hockey and baseball teams. "It's especially fun doing stuff in town with the youth hockey and baseball players. I remember when I was in youth sports and whenever the varsity kids came down to work with us I thought it was the greatest thing. I hope they get as much out of it as I do."

DeDonato hasn't finalized his college plans.

Chelmsford’s Mike DeDonato takes a cut in a game this past spring against St. John’s Prep. SUN/JULIA MALAKIESun staff photos can be ordered by
Chelmsford's Mike DeDonato takes a cut in a game this past spring against St. John's Prep. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our Smugmug site.
He is keeping all his options open, but is leaning toward playing baseball at the collegiate level.

"He's a great kid," said Chelmsford hockey coach Mike McGrath. "He's very level-headed and low-keyed. He's real polite. He's a captain. He's a good role model.

"I know he has options when it comes to college. He loves the game, and he's really developed as a hockey player. I know he's a very good baseball player, too. With him, I know it will come down to academics. Wherever the sports fit in, he'll make the right decision."

In the meantime, DeDonato will continue to maintain a fast-paced schedule. There are games to be won, young athletes to help and homework that needs to get done.

"He's the last of our children so he was able to observe everyone and he carved out his path, which is nice to see," said David DeDonato Sr., who played baseball at Boston College. "He's a very good student. Sports is fun and it's an important aspect of his life right now, but it's not something he's going to make a living at down the line. My wife and I have always emphasized the importance of getting good grades, he realizes that and has been able to balance everything."

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