Gallman, a kicker for Dorman, was being honored with his teammates for senior night. Nobody much noticed, but Gallman wasn’t in numerical order like the rest of the Cavaliers. Instead, 41 was at the end of the line.
He was surrounded by his family, with one notable exception. He held a photo of his father, Army Master Sergeant Eric Gallman. His mother held a framed sign: “Hi Dad. We Miss You. Thank You For Your Service”.
Then, as senior night festivities were about to conclude, Dorman’s giant video board sprang to life. And there, from halfway around the world via Zoom, Eric Gallman got to participate in his son’s senior recognition.
There were tears. There were smiles. And there was an incredible, unforgettable moment for a senior playing his last game at home.
“It just really means a lot,” Hayden said after the game. “I came into the program pretty late, and just to see how much they care about us, even though we haven’t been around for long, it’s amazing. It’s really a family here. It’s really something special. I don’t think any other school in the country would have done something like that.”
To pull off something special, Dorman athletic director Jon Stoehr enlisted the help of Alex Whitt, who runs the massive technical side of Dorman home football games, something few ever see. And in the beginning, nobody else knew.
“Jon reached out about getting in touch with Eric to see if we could get him to livestream in to surprise Hayden and his mom and family,” Alex said. “Yesterday (Thursday) I was able to get him on a call and we got the zoom figured out. Today (Friday) we got connected with the computers to get it into our system.”
And suddenly, a bunch more people knew, which turned up the pressure for Whitt.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, because once a couple of other people found out it was going to happen, now we HAVE to make it work,” Whitt said. “I didn’t think much of the weight of it. I just wanted to make sure it was done right. I think it went pretty smooth, and I’m glad we were able to make it happen. I’m glad we could do that for him and his family.”
Hayden doesn’t get to see his dad much, even via video, and speaks to him less than he’d like.
“Right now it’s about once a week at most that I get to talk to him,” he said. “There’s not much Facetime now with everything that’s going on in the world.”
There was Eric’s face on Friday night, though. And Hayden said that’s something nothing will ever take away.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “This is something I’m never going to forget. Regardless of the score, I’m NEVER going to forget tonight.”