You’ll want to have a box of Kleenex ready for this one.
What seemed like just another game for a high school player and his cheerleader sister turned into a heartwarming surprise earlier this month, when their military dad made an unexpected return from his year-long deployment.
Master Sergeant Joe Egersheim has served his country for 35 years as a member of the United States Army Reserve and just recently wrapped a 12-month tour in Kuwait. Last Friday, his children, Cole and Olivia, students at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Connecticut, were preparing for a game against Bethel High School, when an announcement over the public address system turned their attention to midfield. Cole, who was named a game captain, had joined his teammates for the customary coin toss, as the announcer proclaimed there would be a “honorary referee” for the evening’s game. Little did he know, that special guest was his dad.
“Honestly, at first they said ‘we have a honorary ref’ and he was wearing dark sunglasses at 7 p.m. and I was like, ‘what the heck?’ Cole said. “Then I took a closer look and saw my dad. I was just so happy to see him.”
The father and son shared a long embrace at the 50-yard line and were soon joined by Olivia, who had been on the sideline. The New Haven Register reported that Egersheim’s wife Robin had come up with the idea to surprise their kids after learning her husband would be coming home a month earlier than expected. She coordinated with her son’s coaches to set the plan in motion.
“I literally started crying a bit,” Law coach Erik Larka said. “I looked at my defensive coordinator, Tom Drea, and he had some tears coming down. And watching some of the reactions, it was kind of surreal. It kind of put football on the back burner for a little while.”
Egersheim, meanwhile, admitted to be a little nervous ahead of the reunion.
“I was nervous about it. I’d never done anything like this before in my life. I had a thousand things going through my mind and I didn’t know how [they] would react,” he said. “What’s funny is when I got out there, I turned and faced the head referee so [Cole] still didn’t realize it was me until the announcer mentioned we had a guest referee. That’s when I turned around and started laughing. I guess they say I have a funny, recognizable laugh. That’s when he knew.”
Watch the sweet moment unfold below:
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) September 15, 2017