Joining greats in sports hall 'surreal' for Gallant

Lacrosse player John Gallant, shown holding the National Lacrosse League championship trophy in 2006, was inducted into the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Recognition on Wednesday night. DON HEUPEL / AP

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While growing up, John Gallant spent a lot of time playing sports at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

He also took the time to look at the displays in the Brantford and Area Sports Hall of Recognition, honouring local great athletes.

So, when his dad, Garry, and sister, Rebecca, called the former lacrosse player to tell him he’d be entering the hall as a member, Gallant at first didn’t believe them.

“My initial instinct was a little bit of disbelief,” said Gallant, who was inducted into the hall on Wednesday during a ceremony at the Best Western Brantford Hotel and Conference Centre.

“It’s a little bit of an embarrassment, to a certain extent because I know who else is in that hall of fame and I had never considered myself in that same status.

“To be a part of it now is surreal.”

Lacrosse wasn’t always Gallant’s game. He got involved in the sport in part thanks to his father and local lacrosse legend Gaylord Powless.

His first year playing lacrosse for Brantford, Gallant said his team won just a single game.

“That was kind of my first memory, going from very successful hockey teams to battling through and struggling through this new sport,” said Gallant, whose mother, Cindy, and sister, Jennifer, have also been big supporters.

“What I remember the most is going with my dad and some of my friends to Six Nations and watching the Arrows play.”

Gallant fell in love with lacrosse watching the Arrows. He has fond memories of the team’s 1992 season, when it won the Minto Cup Canadian junior A championship.

It was his hockey teammates with the Ohsweken Golden Eagles who urged Gallant to try out for the Arrows.

“That was 1997 and it was kind of the turning point in my life, walking on with the Arrows,” he said of the invitation he got from Don Whitlow, Landon Miller and Trent Hill.

“Everything that is part of my life would have never happened without the community in Six Nations and the Arrows organization.”

Gallant said he still follows the Arrows from his home in Denver, Colo.

Not winning a national championship with the team is a regret, he said.

“Getting there in ’98 was fantastic,” he said.

“I’ll bring up the Mann Cups and NLL championships (with friends) and everyone comes back with their Minto Cups.”

Along with winning Mann Cup Canadian senior championships in 2003 and 2005 with the Victoria Shamrocks, Gallant won a world indoor championship as a member of Team Canada in 2007 and a National Lacrosse League title with the Colorado Mammoth in 2006.

“They’re comparable,” the defensive specialist said of the two championships.

“There’s not one that’s more important than the other. They both have lifelong memories.

“One you’re representing your country . . . being on a team like that, there are relationships that continue to this day.

“Being able to play in that (NLL) championship game and to win that in Buffalo in front of friends and family . . . it was the best team I’ve ever been on.”

Colorado was the only professional team Gallant played for and after retiring in 2015, he was the team’s all-time leader in games played and ground balls.

He was also the captain in 2010 and ’11.

Now the head coach at Rock Canyon High School, Gallant was happy to share his latest honour with his wife, Jessie, and children – eight-year-old Brady and five-year-old Charlotte.

“I’m very honoured,” said Gallant, who celebrated his 41st birthday on Wednesday.

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