Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
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READY TO HELP: Pete Callahan heads to the ball in a game last fall in his senior season on the Princeton University men’s soccer team. Callahan, a Princeton High alum, was a valued member of the Tiger men’s soccer and squash teams over his college career. He also made valuable contributions off the field, throwing himself into a slew of service activities around the Princeton campus. Last month, he was named as one of the four recipients of the Art Lane Award, which is given to honor selfless contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate athlete.

Serving Others Selflessly On and Off the Field, PHS Alum Callahan Receives PU’s Lane Award

Bill Alden

Pete Callahan gained a memorable lesson in what it means to stand out in a crowd during the gap year he took before entering Princeton University in 2007.

Playing for a soccer team in Kenya while doing some church service there, the Princeton High alum turned heads due to the color of his skin.

“I played on a soccer team there; we traveled to little village towns where we would clear away the goats and play,” said Callahan.

“I was the only white player and there would be hundreds of people watching, yelling ‘mzungu,’ their word for white man.”

When Callahan came back to the U.S. and started college in 2007, he had a clearer view of some of the things he wanted to accomplish at Princeton.

“I was thinking I would only play squash in college but I really fell in love with soccer, seeing the passion in Europe and Africa for the game,” said Callahan, who also studied and played soccer in Edinburgh during his gap year and matriculated to Princeton along with his twin brother, Matthew.

“This school has so many things to do off the field; it is great to get involved. I had always gone to church and been in youth groups where we did retreats and missions.”

In addition to becoming a valued member of both the Tiger men’s soccer and squash programs, Callahan also threw himself into a slew of service activities around campus. He served as a Convener of the Episcopal Church and was a member of the Princeton Faith Action since his freshman year. Callahan also helped with the Cherry Tree Club and Food Task as a member of the Student Volunteer Council.

Last month, Callahan’s efforts on and off the field were recognized when he was named as one of the four recipients of the Art Lane Award, which is given to honor selfless contribution to sport and society by an undergraduate athlete.

“I was definitely surprised; being on the stage with all those people was special,” said Callahan. “There were a lot of really impressive people up there. For a guy that didn’t play that much, it is great to be recognized. It is really rewarding.”

Callahan showed a great level of commitment in going from a walk-on to a key contributor for the Tiger men’s soccer program.

“I talked to Jim [Princeton head coach Jim Barlow] a lot that summer,” said Callahan, reflecting on his decision to walk on to the team after returning from his gap year.

“He said come to camp and if you can hang with team, you’ve got a spot. Our class was so strong and so close; I fit right in with them.

It took character for Callahan to hang in there as he rode the bench for his first three college seasons.

“I felt that each year, I was making progress,” said Callahan, a 6‘2, 170-pound defender who did not see any game action in his first three seasons and then made four appearances last fall as Princeton won the Ivy League title.

“By my junior year, I was making the travel team and going to places like California. During my senior year, I got on the field.”

Callahan’s most important contribution came on a daily basis in his role as a spiritual leader of the team’s reserves.

“We had a strong 11 on our second team and I was the unofficial captain,” said Callahan, who was joined in the reserves by his twin Matt.

“We took a lot of pride in beating the varsity; we would celebrate like they did after wining a game. It made practices lively. Jim said that his last Ivy championship team had a strong second team that pushed the varsity hard. We had three or four seniors on the second team and we played hard.”

For Callahan, being a part of the program’s storied Class of 2011 was a major source of pride.

“This year and last year, we turned around the program,” said Callahan of a two-year stretch which saw the Tigers go 9-6-3 in 2009 and then improve to 13-4-1 last fall, making the NCAA tournament both seasons.

“We had a players meeting at the end of the year and we told the younger guys that college soccer was not pretty at times and you have to grind out wins. What makes the difference is camaraderie and heart. We had an unbelievable chemistry and seniors had a big part in that.”

Tiger head coach Barlow credits the Callahan twins with taking a big part in sparking the team’s positive chemistry.

“They both added a lot to the program; both Pete and Matt were leaders of our ‘B’ team,” said Barlow, noting that the twins won the program’s Myslik Award, which is given to the member of the team who most demonstrates the passion for life, the fiery competitiveness, the unwavering honesty, and the selfless generosity of Rob Myslik.

“They put team first. They were smart and witty; they knew when to be serious and knew when to have a laugh. They really helped team chemistry. There were scrimmages last year between first and second teams that were harder than some of the games. When you see that, you know things are going well. We missed them at practice this spring, not being there to push things and help the younger guys.”

Callahan enjoyed helping the squash program, which is a family affair with father, Bob, serving as head coach and three older brothers having played with program.

“I had to catch myself from saying ‘dad;’ I always tried to say ‘coach,’ “ said Callahan with a laugh.

“He had coached my brothers so he was used to it. By the time I went to Princeton, I was more focused on playing soccer. I wouldn’t start squash until late November or early December and they had already been practicing for weeks. I was totally happy to be on the JV team. I always played two sports; I wouldn’t know what to do if I was not doing that.”

Aside from athletics, Callahan enjoyed doing things for others around campus. “I know I am lucky to play soccer and squash and I wanted to give back and help others,” said Callahan.

“I was going to the Trenton soup kitchen. On Tuesday mornings at 7, I would make rounds at the dining halls and pick up extra food and drive it down there. I was the student head of the Episcopal Church as a sophomore. I got involved in freshman year; it was a real honor; it usually goes to a junior or a senior.”

Having graduated from Princeton in late May, Callahan is taking his drive in a new direction.

“I got an offer from Deutsche Bank; it is something totally different for me,” said Callahan, a politics major.

“It is a new challenge. I will be in London for 10 weeks starting in July and then I will be working in New York City as a first-year analyst in the capital markets division.”

Barlow is confident that Callahan will become a valuable member of the Deustche Bank team.

“People come here and focus on academics and sports and they don’t realize the other opportunities on campus,” said Barlow.

“Pete took advantage of those opportunities. He gave a lot back and did it without getting rattled. He was a talented, smart guy who was dedicated to doing things for others. It was not about personal goals for Peter. That has an impact on people around him; they saw that.”

As Callahan reflects on his Princeton experience, he believes he is better able to impact more people.

“I’d like to think that I am more well rounded; I learned a lot academically but it goes beyond that,” said Callahan.

“I am able to interact with different people from different communities. I have tried to be more personable and relate with different people. I have a greater sense of purpose; I have more sense of direction. I apply my talents but I also know when to let colleagues take the lead.”

By applying his talents to help others on and off the field, Callahan certainly stood out from the crowd during his Princeton career.

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