On October 5, CHS alumni and former Varsity Boys Soccer head coach, John Callahan, passed away, after spending months fighting a new bout of cancer. Known to many as JC, he left behind grieving family members and friends alike, including the current Varsity athletes, now coached by Chad Foley. Since JC spent much of his adult life coaching at CHS, a memorial service in his honor took place in the lower gym on October 16th.
“It was just really incredible to see people from all walks of life,” said junior Seth Javorsky, who plays defense for the team. “Like former players who had been coached under him, people who had coached alongside him, people who had coached him, and then co-workers.”
According to several attendees, the gymnasium was packed with people, many of whom wore athletic gear instead of traditional service attire, as tribute to an easy-going, fun-loving man. “JC was serious and he was a good coach, but at the same time he was always goofing around and having a good time,” said Javorsky. Both the girls’ and boys’ soccer programs were present during the memorial, so there were a few individuals there that never knew JC, but who went anyways to support the peers who were greatly affected by his death.
“It was really nice to hear about his life,” said JV1 senior James Clunes. “He was a guy who I always wanted to learn more about, [but] unfortunately I never got the chance. [The memorial] gave everybody a good idea of his background, where his ideas were coming from, and what it was like to know JC.”
Keely Marvin, a senior forward on the Girls Varsity team, had a similar sentiment. “[It] was very moving. I didn’t really know him, but just to see the amount of people he has touched and all the nice things they had to say … was just awesome,” she said. “It sounds kind of cheesy, but I feel like I got to know him.” A particular moment that stood out to her was when a little girl whispered into the mike, “He made me love soccer again”.
The boys’ program found it difficult to cope with his sudden death at first, especially when the severity of his case wasn’t known until a few days prior. “It was hard because we’re in high school, so we don’t like to show our emotions. [For a while] we didn’t know what to do,” said senior Nicky Uebel, a Boys’ Varsity forward. However, once the memorial service rolled around, many were able to come to terms with what had happened.
“There was a lot of laughter,” Clunes said. “The cool thing was the guys had gotten over their tears … they knew the memorial was supposed to be about remembering his happiness… people weren’t afraid to laugh at him carrying around a boom box or dancing to rap music and things like that.”
One thing Uebel appreciated about JC was that he consistently reminded the team why they were on the field: because they loved the game. “I tend to get really competitive when I play, but … he made me realize that you should just go out and have fun. Sometimes we get too caught up in … winning or just competing [that] we forget the reason why we joined,” he said.
Memorial donations may be made to Benton Community Foundation, where John’s family plans to create a special scholarship fund.