Gallaher made everyone smile

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By Cindy Simpson

Jadah Gallaher left behind a lot of loved ones who remember her as a charming young woman, a passionate athlete with a warm smile for everyone and one who inspired Christian grace.

The 18-year-old Roane State Community College Raiderette basketball player, along with Raider basketball player Roderick Patrick Drummond, 22, of Greenville, S.C., were killed and Darius Gallaher and Hunter Crass were injured when the car they were traveling in was struck by a train.

“She had the best personality anybody could have,” said Laci Sells, her friend and former Harriman High School teammate. “She could always make me laugh and put a smile on my face and make me feel better. She was great all around.”

Another Harriman High School teammate and longtime friend, Dee Boyd, agreed.

“Jadah could bond with anybody pretty much. She is somebody you could open up to and not feel judged. She’s a friendly, caring person,” Boyd said. “She’s a joyful person. I don’t know anyone that didn’t like her. She was such a great athlete and she could make anybody have a great time.”

Boyd said her and Jadah’s family had known each other for years and Jadah felt like family.

Sells also knew Jadah since childhood, and even played at one time on a city league team coached by Jadah’s mother.

From dancing and sleepovers, she has many fond memories, including staying at Gallaher’s grandmothers house senior year at Harriman High School. Sells said Jadah called her grandmother NeeNee.

“We stayed there almost every night her senior year,” Sells said.

“I always think about our sleep overs at her NeeNee’s house, and us laughing and having a good time,” said Boyd.

Basketball was important, too.

“We were always playing basketball,” Sells said.

One of Dee Boyd’s favorite memories is taking Jadah out on the lake.

“The only way to get her to go on the lake with me was her having a life jacket the whole time. I got her out on the innertube. The only way I could get her on it was if I got on with her. It was just me and her in that really cramped innertube hanging on for our lives,” Boyd said.

Boyd said she was supposed to go to Gallaher’s house the night of the young woman’s death and she was texting Gallaher wondering where she was.

Coaches, teammates and even opposition praised Jadah Gallaher’s play and personality.

Monica Boles, her coach at Roane State Community College, described Gallaher as completely selfless.

“She was just one of those kids that made you feel better by just being there. She just brought something no one else could,” Boles said.

Known as a prankster, Boles said Jadah kept everything lighthearted.

“It was hard to have a bad day with Jadah and she just kind of had that knack about herself. It was hard to wear a frown when Jadah was around,” Boles said.

Boles would often find a surprise on her phone from the mischievous young woman. Not looking through her phone often, it always caught her by surprise and made her smile.

“She’d grab my phone and take pictures of herself and the girls. I always knew she’d been in my office,” Boles said.

She said she and her team are heartbroken by the turn of events.

“It just breaks my heart. Her whole family is great people,” said Boles.

“She was just such a blessing for us to have.”

She said Jadah got her kind spirit from her family. The Gallahers would travel to watch the girls play and dad, Willie Gallaher, even volunteered to record their games at a Decatur, Georgia tournament.

“They were such great people and Jadah was just like them,” Boles said.

Boles said Jadah Gallaher embraced student athletes that lived far from home, such as twins Shauntae Brown and Shanae Brown, from Frankfort, Ky.

“She just went above and beyond. I know she was probably a lot of the reason they didn’t get homesick,” Boles said. The family also became close to Drummond, who was far from his South Carolina home.

“Harriman High and Roane State basketball teams lost a beloved member of their families. Jadah has left us, and we are left to remember her contagious smile and infectious laugh, her leadership skills on and off the court, her outstanding athletic ability, and most importantly, her commitment to Christ our Lord. When we think of someone as popular and talented as Jadah Gallaher, it is a tragedy that affects us all-our entire community,” said former coach Johnny Jones, who coached Jadah one year at Harriman High School and as a faculty member also would see her around at Roane State Community College.

She was someone we were proud to have as a player, as a friend, and as a member of our teams. To say she will be deeply missed is an understatement.”