After a twelve year career that featured six consecutive conference regular season titles, Jay Callahan has stepped down as the Salem College soccer coach to become Executive Director for Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network. Callahan concludes his career with a 155-58-10 overall record, which is good enough to rank him in the top 40 all-time winningest coaches for NCAA DIII women's soccer.
"I will always cherish the phenomenal student-athletes I was able to coach at Salem," said Callahan. "Salem is a great place to work. I have been to dozens of campuses throughout my career, and I still haven't found a campus as historic, unique, and beautiful."
Callahan had six teams win conference regular season titles, advanced to six conference championship games, and won three tournament titles. He had two teams play in the NCAA DIII National Tournament, and the past two seasons, Salem has been ranked in the top ten programs in the South ranging from New Jersey to Texas.
Associate Athletic Director Betsy Pryor said, "Jay's talent for recruiting and motivating his players led to the development of one of the most successful teams in Salem's history. His drive and passion for the game earned him Coach of the Year awards and brought distinction to the program and to Salem Athletics." Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs & Dean of the College Susan Calovini said, "we thank Jay for his many years of outstanding contributions and success as a coach, teacher, and mentor to our students and for his dedicated service to Salem College."
He was able to successfully recruit over 120 student-athletes to Salem from 29 different states including far away states like Alaska, California, Nevada, and Montana. "I learned a lot from the players I coached at Salem. They played with great heart and pride."
"I wouldn't have been able to have the success I had without a fantastic assistant coaching staff," said Callahan. "Thomas Moore will do great things in his coaching career. I also would like to thank Sierra Hutchins, Gabriel Lowder, and Sara McCormack for their outstanding commitment to the program. Mike Hollman was a great mentor to me and I was incredibly lucky to have my dad, Rence Callahan, help me out."
After his first team went 1-15, Callahan was able to turn around the program to go 15-1-2 his second season, which is the biggest turn around in DIII history. Since then, the team has won over 10 games in every season. Callahan has been honored as conference coach of the year 6 times in his 12 seasons. He was chosen by his coaching peers as the USA South Coach of the Year out of 18 programs this past season.
The three winningest coaches in the USA South Athletic Conference who have been some of Callahan's biggest rivals that he "highly respects" chimed in on his departure. Paul Smith from Meredith College said, "few know how great a job Jay did to build up the Salem women's team to a regional and national level. The program will miss his hard work, knowledge, and passion. I consider Jay not only a coaching peer; but also a good friend for all the battles we have been through." Covenant College Coach Mark Duble said, "I hate that this conference loses what I see as one of the up and coming coaches in our ranks, on the other side I am excited for Jay as a man that he has found a challenge that excites and motivates him." Pepe Fernandez from Maryville College said, "Jay did such a good job at Salem! I always respected Jay and his teams when we played."
Callahan coached 7 student-athletes to Salem Athlete of the Year honors, 12 to United Soccer Coaches All-Region honors, 5 to conference player of the year honors, and 65 players to all-conference honors. His teams always succeeded in the classroom as they won the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award every year they were eligible. The team GPA average for his programs was over a 3.3. "It was important to me to recruit highly motivated student-athletes and it shows with what a lot of them are now doing after they graduated." During his career, he also took Salem programs to play abroad in Italy, Costa Rica, and Spain.
"I will always be indebted to Kim Fierke for hiring me to Salem and being a great mentor," said Callahan. "Melissa Barrett was able to move our athletic department to a level that we could compete at a top level in the Great South and USA South. It was great to share the past 12 years with Betsy (Pryor) and Eddie Stevens. I was also very lucky to work with great coaches at Salem that have become some of my closest friends over the years."
"I will miss walking the streets at Salem and being out on the field with the team. They are set up for a great run this year, and I will be rooting them on to bring Salem some more hardware," said Callahan. "I look forward to this next part of my life. I am very enthusiastic about my new position as it is a great organization. I also look forward to being able to spend more time with my family."
Release courtesy of the Salem sports information department.