I am not a writer. I am a photographer. However, when Alicia (Managing Editor of Dynamo Theory) asked me if I’d like to put together a photo post of my favorite shots of Tally Hall, I quickly agreed but I also knew that I wanted to take this opportunity to write about Tally. This is not a post filled with facts or stats about Tally’s career. It is simply my thoughts and opinions about him from the perspective of a fan.
Before 2012, I really didn’t keep up with professional soccer at any level. When starting to follow in a new sport, it always helps to have a player (or players) that you like to help draw you in. I can imagine that a lot of people (especially women) in the Houston area have been drawn into the NFL and the Houston Texans over the past few years because they found a player they liked (J.J. Watt), which gave them a likeable person to root for. For professional soccer, and the Houston Dynamo in particular, the player that my family and I first identified with was Tally Hall.
Yes, we eventually learned who all the players were and to care about all of them, but Tally was the first one that stood out to us. One reason was simply because he was the goalkeeper. Both of my kids play soccer, which is what introduced my wife to the sport and caused my family to learn a lot about it. My son has primarily been a goalkeeper, and as parents of a keeper, my wife and I have a built-in sympathy for anyone that plays the position. I had also spent a season playing goalkeeper back in my youth, and it was my favorite position to play. Another, admittedly silly, reason that Tally immediately caught my notice was because we both have an unusual first name that starts with a "T", and a simple last name.
Around the same time that my wife started watching pro soccer games on TV, I got my first opportunity to shoot professional sports beginning with the Dynamo’s home playoff games in 2012. After each of those game ended, there was one player that stayed out on the field longer than everyone else – signing a few autographs, posing for pictures with fans, and interacting with his family. That player was of course Tally Hall. As a husband and father myself, it really caught my eye and made me smile when I saw Tally go over to his wife and kids, give them kisses, and spend a minute with them before heading to the locker room. It would be a routine that I would witness many times over the next couple of years. While many of the players are single, and others that have families do interact with their family members at times, Tally did it more than anyone. While that doesn’t prove anything, it does give fans a reason to view him as a likeable guy.
The more I learned about Tally the more I was convinced that he was indeed a good guy. Like everybody in the Dynamo organization, he was involved in charity work. He's one of the players that would get his hair buzzed off in the annual "Bald is Beautiful" charity event. He’s a huge supporter of the military and as a veteran myself I appreciate that. Another common sight at Dynamo games was seeing Tally run over to shake hands and talk to any military members that were on the field. And of course the charity that he and Brad Davis head up, Banded Brigade Outdoors, is a charity for veterans. Tally and Brad (and others on the team as well) seem to be such good people both on and off the field that I often remark that if soccer was as popular as football, that those guys would be as popular and as loved in Houston as J.J. Watt because they’re just as likeable as he is.
I eventually got to meet Tally in person a few times. I got the opportunity to do some portrait shots of him for his website www.notanoperator.com. I can attest that he is every bit as nice in person as I expected him to be.
With all of the talk about how nice he is, anyone that isn’t familiar with his play on the pitch (perhaps some Orlando fans reading this) shouldn’t get the idea that he is soft as a player. He definitely brings the passion when it is game time. On top of everything else about Tally that got my attention, his dependable and outstanding play for the Dynamo is the number one thing that made him my favorite player.
As a Dynamo fan, I’m definitely a supporter of our new starting keeper Tyler Deric and I hope that he has a superb career, but my family and I are extremely bummed that Tally won’t be back with the team. Tally, we will miss you and we wish you all the success you can possibly have (except for when you play the Dynamo of course). When you return to BBVA Compass Stadium as a member of Orlando City SC, which will hopefully happen this upcoming season, my wife and kids already have plans to get front-row tickets if any are available and to bring a sign to show you support.
And finally, a word about the photo slideshow, which was the reason I was supposed to do this post. I’ve put them in order by the themes that I wrote about: family, military support & Banded Brigade Outdoors, the "not an operator" portrait session (note how he wanted to show that he didn’t take himself seriously with the funny outfit that he changed into), random shots before and after games (note that he was smiling in the pre-game team portrait when no other players were, which was almost always the case), shots that show his tough and passionate side, and various game action shots.
If you have any fond memories or stories about Tally that you’d like to share (or just words of appreciation), please leave them in the comments below, and I’ll make sure that he sees them.