Hayden Sargeant reckoned the best day of his sporting life couldn’t get any better as he signed sideline autographs after his Australian Rugby 7s debut.
Then he heard a voice rising above the din of Los Angeles’ Dignity Health Sports Stadium.
It wasn’t just the Aussie accent, but the use of a nickname only known by four other people that stopped him in his tracks.
Sargeant had been a bolter on the Australian 7s tour of LA after being a late call-up to the squad as injury cover.
He set off with hopes of learning as much as he could and impressing the coaches with his efforts on the training track but admits he had advised his parents he had no great expectations around getting a game.
So when he got called into the side for the tournament opener against Kenya, his only hope was that his family back home would get to watch it on TV.
But Stu and Nikki Sargeant are proud and committed sporting parents.
They have logged countless hours at Mermaid Beach Surf Club as Hayden and younger brother Beau, 15, competed in Nippers, patrolled the sidelines at The Southport School for both sons’ schoolboy rugby games and are regulars at The Canal where Hayden plays both premier Rugby and 7s for the Bond Bull Sharks.
If they could swing it, there was no way they’d miss the chance to see Hayden achieve his childhood dream.
Nikki was already committed to a work trip to North Queensland, but Stu and Beau raced the clock to get to LA in time, just in case.
“My dad and Beau didn't tell me they were coming, they were hiding in the crowd and after the game I was signing autographs when my brother yelled out a nickname only my family and girlfriend call me,” he said.
“I can't even remember the conversation I had with them because I was in such shock, but it is a moment I will remember forever.’’
The Bond University Bachelor of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying graduate went on to play every game in the Los Angeles leg of the tour where the Australians finished fourth, stayed with the team for the series in Vancouver where he played all bar one game as the side went on to claim the bronze medal.
“I loved every minute of it,” he said.
“I was super grateful for the opportunity, thankful for all the support from my friends and family and was lastly just proud of myself for pushing through all the lows and hard work that I have been through.
“I kept thinking back to my younger self thinking how proud he would be.
“And the thought of representing your country just brings something special out of you that I can't explain. “