Mark Gall Says Sports Should Be Fun

Mark Gall thinks sports should be fun. That may seem like an obvious statement but many young athletes lose their love of sports for one reason or another.

Gall didn’t want that to happen to his 7-year old brother Robert. So, he’s spending part of his spring helping coach his brother’s travel baseball team.

A native of Summit, N.J. and a junior at The Hun School, where he’s a forward on the hockey team, Gall seized on the opportunity to have an impact on his brother’s life.

“I understand the importance that a coach can play in an athlete’s life,” he said. “So, when I was presented with the opportunity, I felt like I could make a positive impact on these kids because they’re so young.

“My dad came with the idea and I thought it would be great because I want to interact with my little brother, especially now since I’m going to college. I thought like I could have an impact on the team as a whole and my little brother.”

Gall played baseball growing up, but the former shortstop put away his bat and glove at age 13 to concentrate on hockey. He speaks to the importance of young athletes having fun.

“The most important part is that you have fun,” he said. “You don’t want any kid to feel like they’re being forced to play. You want them to feel like you want to play, so I feel like can make things more fun, because the head coach of the baseball team is pretty serous. So, I like to come in and kind of relax everybody and make it more of and fun experience.”

Gall says Ian McNally his coach at Hun School, is committed to giving his players a positive experience.

“I started playing for Ian after I quit baseball,” Gall said, “but he definitely teaches about what it’s like to have a great team environment and overall how to be a better man.

“He gives everybody a shot. There’s not only one team that he lets sit on the bench and rot away their potential. He gives everybody a shot and if he sees somebody that’s disengaged, he makes sure that they’re (involved).”

Gall says he wasn’t so fortunate earlier in his hockey career when he played for a coach who wasn’t as focused on his players having fun.

 “It was more kike just a business,” he recalls. “It was just all around a tough experience, he’s a tough coach. It was to the point where you would be afraid to make a mistake or mess up a drill. 

“That circles back to Ian McNally and his caching style. He has his players not afraid to do something wrong.”

Gall says committed to seeing that his brother and his teammates enjoy their foray into team sports.

“I want them to experience the fun part of it,” he said, “and I want them to realize that if they are ever presented with a coach that is going to basically scold them and talk bad about them, that that’s not really what the game is all about. It’s about having fun and getting better and learning to be a better man.”

Quinn Egan’s Remarkable Journey

The importance of giving back through community service is emphasized to every student at St. Joseph’s Prep and, indeed, to students at each of the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference institutions. Serving overseas however, in a part of the world impacted by war, requires a different level of commitment.

Quinn Egan chose to take that step. A senior at St. Joseph’s Prep and a forward on the hockey team, Egan, a Blue Bell resident, spent his spring break in Poland last month assisting Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war that continues to decimate their homeland.

His father, Tom Egan, accompanied him. In fact, the trip was Tom Egan’s idea.

 “(His father)  has always been really interested in world events,” Quinn Egan said.  “So, he had been reading up on this for six or seven months, just watching the tension build. He used to tell me about it every day and started giving me daily updates and I realized how big of a deal it truly was.

“He thought it was something that we could go over and get involved in and it would good to help people.”

The trip was arranged through Caritas, a Catholic service organization. Father and son flew from Newark to Warsaw, Poland and drove from there to Lublin, a city located roughly an hour west of the Ukraine border. They spent the first two days of their trip there packing clothing.

“There were shipments coming from throughout the world,” Egan said. “They had tons and tons of clothes. 

“We packed them into boxes and put them on a bunch of pallets, then onto a huge truck that every night was driven into the Ukraine somewhere.

Egan and his father also spent much of two days at the border assisting incoming refugees. 

“We pretty much greeted and welcomed refugees,” Egan said. “We gave them food, basically any necessities that we had Anything they needed, we would try and give them if we had it.

“There was also a shelter where refugees could be registered and eventually, after one or two days, sent off to somebody’s house to live in to give them a more permanent home.”

That new home would likely be in Poland but theoretically could be anywhere in the EU.

Egan that the refugees he encountered were optimistic despite their circumstances. “They truly believed they will win the war,” he said. “They do have a positive mindset when it comes to that.”

Egan says there was one instance that gave him pause.

“There was one moment when I felt nervous and did not know what was happening,” he said. “One morning I woke before my dad. I went out to go to a bakery and just grab a donut or a piece of bread or whatever.

“There was a plane that flew overhead really low. And where we are (in Lublin), there’s no major airport so no flights are coming in. Ukraine is only a quick drive away.

“When the plane flew overhead in the Old Town, the pedestrian-only area, everybody went inside, into a building. Hundreds of people just ran into a building. It was completely uncertain. Nobody knew if it was a Russian plane an American plane, a Finnish or a Polish plane. Nobody knew. So, that was the only time I felt even a little bit unsafe. But, besides that, I felt completely safe the whole time. And the Polish people, I’ll say, are very confident nothing will happen to them.”

Egan returned to St. Joseph’s Prep following the Easter holiday with a fresh perspective on the war.

“I think experiencing something in general makes the news way   whatever it is more powerful,” he said. “So, actually going over there and meeting the people that are being forced out of their homes or having their homes destroyed while maybe having a family member also being killed, makes it really powerful to see what’s happening.

Egan reflected on how his trip tied into his school’s concept of community service.

“When I was in eighth grade I remember a Prep presentation given by a few students and the admissions director Howie Brown,” he said. “And I remember them really emphasizing the importance of service, of helping others no matter how big or small I know that’s been a major emphasis from Day One at the Prep and even before the Prep that you should always try to be involved I whatever you can.”