No matter how long it's been since his high school or college days, or where he's currently making a living, returning home and helping out current and future baseball players holds special meaning for former Sam Houston pitcher Dallas Gallant.
After completing his first season of rookie ball with the Elizabethton (Tenn.) Twins of the Minnesota Twins organization, Gallant came home for Christmas vacation to help Trinity head baseball coach Terry James run a two-day baseball fundamentals camp during the holiday break.
"Having Dallas, a player who has succeeded at the college level and is now taking his shot of making it in professional baseball was a huge thrill for these youngsters," James said. "This is the kind of activity that keeps the kids interested in baseball again and gets the enthusiasm up.
"Dallas has been working with our high school kids. Our guys have seen his work ethic and that has been great. Dallas doesn't mess around. It's his love and it's his job. Those kids see that and that's what we've got to have."
As a three-year letterman for head coach Mark Johnson's Bearkat baseball team, Gallant helped lead Sam Houston to NCAA Division I regional playoff appearances in both 2008 and 2009. The Trinity High School product earned All-Southland Conference honorable mention honors, was a 2008 Southland All-Tournament selection and appeared in 53 games on the mound during his SHSU career.
"I'm definitely very happy to be able to come home and see my family and be home for the holidays," Gallant said. "I love baseball. If I'm not playing, I want to be around it. I asked (coach James) if I could help. I've been helping him and working with the high school team and giving them lessons. It's been good. I'm definitely happy to be home.
"It's going to be tough to leave, but I'm ready to start throwing again. After spending some time at home, it's going to be a lot easier knowing that I'll be back again."
Following Gallant's junior season with the Sam Houston State Bearkats last spring, the hard-throwing right-hander was picked by the Twins in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball Draft last June.
As his second summer with the Hyannis Mets of the prestigious Cape Cod League was coming to an end, Gallant and the Twins agreed to terms on a contract. At that point, his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball became a reality.
"I'm just very fortunate to have that opportunity presented for me," Gallant said. "I've had good coaches all along the way and had my dad helping me all these years."
Gallant spent the rest of the summer and the early part of the fall playing rookie-level ball for Elizabethton, where he went 2-0 and had a 1.98 earned run average in six appearances.
"I ended up getting there and only kind of knew one guy," Gallant said. "All the guys were real nice. They all knew what kind of position you were in because they went through it also. I threw the ball well and got invited to go to the instructional league in Florida.
"I went down there with about 40 other guys. We'd work on (pitcher fielding practice) and then play games. One of Joe Mauer's brothers was one of the coaches at instrux and I also got to meet Paul Molitor, a Hall of Famer. That was cool to meet them, guys who have been there. It was good. I enjoyed it."
Gallant pointed to his two stints during the summers of 2009 and 2010 in the Cape Cod League as valuable preparation for the minor leagues.
"You face some of the best hitters in the nation," Gallant said. "It's kind of like the minors. You can't get away with as many things. You're also playing with wooden bats so people were getting used to that."
While Gallant is enjoying the time off, he's also looking forward to what's ahead - spring training.
"I go back to Fort Myers, Florida, and it'll be a lot like the instructional league. You wake up at 6:30 (a.m.) and get to the field and have breakfast at 7:30. Then you have meetings and everything, except instead of 40 people, you'll have more than 200 there. I'm looking forward it.
"Where I go depends on how well I pitch there. My goal is to start out in Fort Myers with the Miracle (Single-A advanced). That's where I want to be. If it doesn't happen, it's not a bad thing. It's just a step up from where I'm supposed to be at this time. If you move up from where you were last year, that's a positive. We'll see what happens."