Today, he’s so thankful Bruce Power convinced him to get involved.
Gallant’s commitment to soccer in the Stephenville area over a 20-year span has culminated in the 53-year-old Stephenville native being inducted in the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Hall of Fame in the builder category. Gallant and his wife Karen, who now live in Bridgewater, N.S. attended the induction ceremony in St. John’s.
Bruce Power, also a Hall of Famer, was also on hand for the special night. Power is the man responsible for starting minor soccer in Stephenville and he’s also the guy who tried for a couple of years to get Gallant involved with the coaching side of soccer. Gallant was a member of a couple of Stephenville teams that won soccer titles during his playing days and one of them included a senior A title whereby Stephenville beat Mount Pearl, a team that was competing at the Challenge Cup level that summer.
“It was a great night. Having Bruce there was real nice,” the soft-spoken Gallant said Thursday from his Bridgewater home, noting he thanked his mentor and also enjoyed lunch with he and his wife the day of the induction ceremony.
Gallant is humbled by the recognition, and he’s honoured to find his name mentioned in the same breath as others who have paved the way for soccer in this province.
“It’s quite the honour knowing who is in there, a lot of great people, especially on the west coast,” he said.
“Doug Sweetapple for one, to even be in the same league as Doug is quite the achievement I think.”
Gallant has had a passion for the game since he was 10 years old and he tried to instill that passion into the players he coached along the way.
A look at his resumé shows he made his mark on the budding soccer players coming up the ranks.
His background includes guiding St. Stephen’s High to back-to-back 4A female high school soccer titles. Gallant would take a bunch of girls, including his daughter Deidre, from being a bunch of girls with no idea what they were doing to bragging rights as provincial champions two years in a row.
“The girls went from a point where they couldn’t kick the ball to the point where we beat St. John’s twice in a row,” he said of the group. “It was really nice to win and my daughter was on the team so that was a highlight.”
During the 1990s, Gallant, who also has a son (Tim), would play a helping hand in Stephenville claiming three provincial male soccer crowns three years in a row and earning the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador on the national stage. He was a member of the coaching staff for both an Under-16 and Under-18 team, while serving as the head coach of an Under-17 team that made it three in a row for the Stephenville minor soccer community.
Of course, he is proud of the three championships, but remembers how his Under-17 championship team overcame a lot of obstacles to claim victory.
“That was a good feeling to kind of take a team and go with it. We worked very hard that summer,” he said. “It’s a funny story because we played Corner Brook all year that summer and couldn’t beat them, and we got in the semifinal game against Corner Brook and we beat them, the only time that year.”
Gallant has too much on his plate to coach minor soccer now, but he still competes on the turf with a Bridgewater team entered in a Halifax league geared for players 45 years and older.
Nonetheless, he has some words of advice for budding soccer players.
“All you can do is work hard in practice, try to get better and play your best in a game,” he said.