Military parents of Franklin Regional, Indiana soccer players watch playoff match together overseas

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 7:19 PM


Parents of opposing players watched Wednesday night’s WPIAL Class 3A boys soccer playoff game in Murrysville from more than 6,500 miles away — in Kuwait.

Megan Dawson, the stepmother of Franklin Regional sophomore midfielder/defender Sam Dawson, and John Fefolt, the father of Indiana senior goalkeeper Sam Fefolt, are stationed at the same military base in Kuwait.

They tuned into the playoff game between their sons’ teams — the Panthers and Indians — through a live stream.

The teams set up a special, surprise acknowledgment for Dawson and Fefolt before kickoff.

The sons walked to midfield for the national anthem and Rev. Ed Gray of the First Presbyterian Church of Murrysville sang a ringing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, giving the night a splash of patriotism and pride.

Franklin Regional coach Rand Hudson had the idea to connect the remote fans as not only a way to watch their sons play but also to salute those serving overseas.

The military runs in Hudson’s family, which gives him passion for any type of salute.

He was born on a U.S. Army base in Heidelberg, West Germany, and his father, Rand, served in the Army.

Both of his grandfathers, Harry Hudson and Amel Hanko, served in World War II.

The coach said the team wanted to show appreciation to Dawson’s mother at some point during the season, but when they heard of the connection to Indiana, the decision on what to do next was easy.

“Megan is a giant fan of the team and super encouraging to Sam,” Coach Hudson said. “She also has a very young child … I could not imagine having to leave your family, including a newer youngster.

“When they told me about the goalkeeper from Indiana, and that his father would be watching at the same time (with Megan) together, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to show our gratitude. We just want to acknowledge them, and for a few minutes, bring them a little bit of home.”

Megan Dawson is a Chief Warrant Officer 3, deployed with the Pennsylvania National Guard as a Black Hawk medevac pilot. She supports operations in Iraq, Syria and Jordan.

John Fefolt, a member of the National Guard since 1985, is a UH-60 Blackhawk instructor pilot and maintenance test pilot. He is currently assigned as the Battalion Aviation Maintenance Officer deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Kosovo.

The pregame recognition ended with a round of applause from the teams and spectators.

“Gentlemen remove your hats,” announcer Kurt Kimmich said, “And may we stand just a little straighter, a little taller … As we rise for the playing of the national anthem. Our soldiers are watching.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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