In searching Monday for the right response, John Walker, principal of St. Vincent High School, went historical and found the answer in South Dakota.
"If we had a Mount Rushmore on campus," Walker said, "Gary's face would be on it."
Gary Galloway's mug in granite, now there's an image. Strong and solid, chiseled and eternal, a face that's been around here so long, the man behind it is a backstory known to both the young and to the old. Nine kids who are playing football for him this season, their fathers played for Galloway.
"I understand there's a fifth-grader coming up that ..." Galloway paused for the notion to sink in, "will be a grandkid of someone I coached."
Yes, a backstory, that's Galloway, 61. His is a backstory that serves this sentence well: Everyone would like to leave an imprint before their time is done. No one wants to be a vapor in the mist, a fleeting presence gone while still around. To be known, to be remembered, to be a face on Mt. St. Vincent, that takes some effort.
It takes this kind of effort.
The kind of effort you might find hard to believe. I know I did.
Galloway is in his 30th year as St. Vincent's football coach. OK. Fine.
Last Saturday he won his 200th game. OK. Great. Not everyone does that. Now for the punch line.
"The vast majority of kids who play football at St. Vincent's never played before they got here," Galloway said.
You mean, it's like Football 101 when they arrive as freshman? Like, here kids, here's the laces. Here's how you hold the football. Here's how you throw the football. Stuff like that, stuff that basic?
"Yep," Galloway said.
You show them how to put on the pads? Dress them?
"Yep," he said again.
What begins as remedial football turns into this: A 200-117-1 career record, four NCS championships, and 10 league championships (shared or solo).
Galloway takes players who are raw as raw can be and seasons them in less than four years, marinating them in the correct fundamentals, appropriate compliments and resulting success.
"The one advantage you have about coaching a kid who has never played football before," Galloway said, "is that you don't have any bad habits to break. Now don't go and make it a big deal about me."
Sorry, dude. I cannot comply. Players, coaches, parents, they have come and gone. You're the one constant. You're the one who stayed so long that you had to adjust, that you couldn't apply the same approach in 2013 that you employed in 1984.
"In 1984," Galloway said, "we had dairy kids, ranch kids. They didn't have a lot of distractions. Today, it's asking a kid a lot to give up three hours a day to play football. Today's kid is much busier. There are more things for him to do."
Galloway didn't mention the curse of technology applied to adolescents, where the playing of video games somehow feels like an involved and fruitful activity to a 15-year-old.
A 15-year old, by the way, who never played football. Coming to a high school, also by the way, that doesn't have a feeder system like some schools. A school that's known for academics.