On Friday evening in Sullivan Gym, Saint Ignatius High School will unveil a new award. In celebration of Black History Month, Saint Ignatius has created a new honor – the Trailblazer Award.
This award recognizes Saint Ignatius alumni of color who have made history, forging new ground as innovators and pioneers both at Saint Ignatius and beyond. The three honorees will be presented with the award before Friday's showdown vs. St. Edward. Interim Director of Diversity & Inclusion Christian Sanders '10 will present the awards.
All three recipients are from the class of 1971. These three men answered the call of furthering matters of inclusion during the years of racial integration here at Saint Ignatius.
The 2019 Trailblazer Award winners are:
• Fred Nance ’71
• Dominic Ozanne ’71
• Nelson Bryant ’71
Nance and Ozanne were the first two black student-athletes to run track & field at Saint Ignatius, while Nance was also the first black student-athlete to play football here. Bryant was the first black student-athlete to play basketball at Saint Ignatius.
Each of these three men paved the way for countless young men to thrive in both the classroom and on the field at Saint Ignatius.
“I’m very thankful for everything they’ve done,” said Jett Elad, a Wildcats football player who recently committed to Ohio University. “They’ve paved the way for me to come through and do what I’ve done here, to be able to be a student-athlete here. That’s amazing for me and my family.”
Fred Nance became the first black student-athlete to play football at Saint Ignatius, helping the Wildcats reach the City Championship in back-to-back seasons. Nance also enjoyed a stellar career as a track & field athlete, starring as a sprinter.
Nance earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University before obtaining a law degree from the University of Michigan.
In the last 40 years, Nance’s list of accomplishments is incredibly long, too long for this space. During his lengthy career at the presitigious law firm Squire Patton Boggs, Nance has played a part in the development of huge projects such as the construction of FirstEnergy Stadium and downtown Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation. Nance was also a finalist for the Commissioner of the National Football League. Nance’s client list includes Dave Chappelle and LeBron James.
Nance serves on the Board of Directors for several prominent institutions, including the Cleveland Clinic. Nance previously won the St. Robert Bellarmine Award in 1999 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018 from Saint Ignatius. Nance and Ozanne each served with distinction on the Saint Ignatius Board of Regents.
Ozanne, alongside Nance, became the first black student-athlete to run track & field at Saint Ignatius. Ozanne was a star sprinter and hurdler for the Wildcats, earning the admiration of his classmates. "Dom was a true Ignatian in all respects," his fellow students wrote of him in the yearbook.
After graduation, Ozanne headed to Boston University for undergrad. Ozanne then earned his Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School.
Not long after graduating, Ozanne became general counsel of his father's renowned company, Ozanne Construction Company. Ozanne was named President and CEO of the company in 1990. Under his leadership, the company has been consistently ranked in the Black Enterprise list of America's top 100 industrial/service companies.
Ozanne has won many Saint Ignatius awards, such as the 2002 Distinguished Alumni Award and the Seal of Loyola. Ozanne sent his two sons, Dominic Jr. ‘03 and Josh ‘18, to Saint Ignatius.
Several players on the Wildcats' basketball team know Mr. Ozanne well. Ozanne's son, Josh '18, played a significant role for the Wildcats teams in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Josh currently plays at DePaul.
“Especially for Mr. Ozanne, growing up with Josh since third grade, I would say a huge thanks to him for all of the little things he’s taught me, and all he’s done for the black community at Saint Ignatius," said Wildcats' guard Chase Toppin.
Wildcats' senior forward Lores Valenzuela has learned plenty of Mr. Ozanne during his four years at Saint Ignatius. Ozanne has become a mentor to the talented, smart 6'3 forward.
“We talked a lot. He gave me a lot of good speeches after games," Valenzuela said. "He would tell me what I can do better. I didn’t know him coming in freshman year, and now he’s a person I go to for inspiration.”
In 1969-70, Nelson Bryant became the first black basketball player at Saint Ignatius. Bryant played a significant role for the Wildcats' basketball team, providing scoring and great defense. Thanks in part to Bryant's contributions, the Wildcats reached the Sectional Tournament in 1969-70 and the District Tourney in 1970-71. Unfortunately, Bryant passed away as a young alumnus. Hollis Johnson '71 will accept the award for Bryant.
"I want to say thank you to all of them for their great contributions for trailblazing and making sure African-Americans can play sports here," said Wildcats' junior point guard Caleb Blake. "It's always an honor when you can wear Saint Ignatius across your chest, and it's something they started for us."
“I want to say thank you," said Valenzuela. "They paved the way for guys like us to come out and display our talents. It’s a blessing we get to do that."
On behalf of Saint Ignatius athletics, we thank and congratulate these three exceptional Saint Ignatius alumni for their trailblazing efforts, both here at Saint Ignatius and beyond.