Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A conversation with Chris Callinan

Cherokee Coaches Steve Shaklee and Chris Callinan
One decision can make all the difference. Chris Callinan decided to try out for the cross country team his sophmore year at Gloucester Catholic. It was a tough decision-- Callinan had played soccer in Washington Township since the time he could walk. It was a decision that would pay dividends immediately. Callinan quickly became an outstanding distance runner-- becoming just the second Gloucester Catholic runner to qualify for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in cross country. He also broke longstanding Gloucester Catholic school records in the 1600 and the 3200 meters (which were later broken by his younger brother Ted). Next he moved on to Cabrini College where he continued to run and to break Cabrini track records.
After graduation Callinan's love of running led him to a career coaching and teaching. He presently works at Cherokee High School where he has coached numerous state Chris on starting line with his brothers on this wedding day.and Olympic Conference champions with Steve Shaklee. Callinan also has been a successful meet director hosting the Cherokee Challenge meet: http://www.ccctf.com/ch_chal_main.html , one of the biggest high school cross country invitational meets in New Jersey.

Cabrini Coach Tom O'Hora reflects on Chris: "I still remember when he visited Cabrini. His older brother was already a student and we were very happy to have him attend.
Chris made an immediate contribution to the team. He was a top five runner in his freshman year and quickly became the number one runner by his sophomore year.
This was done by working hard despite having some back problems almost from birth. He never made excuses or complained. In fact he always seemed to be in great spirits. Had it not been for this nagging problem, I am convinced that Chris would have been a National NCAA qualifier. In XC his most impressive race was at the Dickinson Invitation where he finished in the top ten against some of the best runners on the East coast. He still has three Cabrini track records. They have been on the books since 1992. Chris probably would have lowered these marks himself if he made more opportunities to run in his senior year. The most impressive mark is the 10 K record of 31:00.47. Runners like Chris are few and far between. He was pretty much a coach's ideal runner."

Callinan now 39, was raised in Washington Twp, NJ and now resides in Haddon Township NJ. He was married last Nov. 29th to Aime nee Marshall a graduate of Paul VI High School (NJ). He recently spoke to us about his running career.

When did you start running?
Chris: I started running in 6th grade when my uncle got me a pair of running shoes. I ran my first race later that year, the Washington Twp. 10K

What do you consider as some of your highlights in your running career?
Chris: Breaking the Gloucester Catholic HS records in the 1600 and 3200. I remember the first time that I broke 10 minutes at the Camden County meet. Winning the Olympic Conf. championship @ 3200 meters on a kick. In college breaking the 10,000 meters, 5,000 meters, 3,000 meter SC, and Decatholon. 2 times a Conference Champion in XC. Post College. Running PR's @ 5,000 and 10,000 Meters and being a member of the Philadelphia Running Club.

When did you start teaching/coaching?:
Chris: I started coaching and teaching at Sacred Heart HS (Vineland) in 1992. I coached there for 5 years and then taught in the Archdisoces of Philadelphia for 2 years. Then I moved on to Cherokee HS (Marlton NJ) in 1999. I have been coaching XC, Indoor and Outdoor Track ever since I moved on the Cherokee. How did you become interested in Coaching. Always liked helping my brothers in their running. When I graduated from Cabrini Tony Mancini was leaving Sacred Heart and gave me a call to coach his team.

Do you have any running goals at present?
Chris: Not sure right now. I will turn 40 this year (December 22) so the masters age group will be my next step.
What is your "philosophy of running"?
Chris: You need to enjoy running and do everything correctly. There is no substitute for hard work. Running is a tough mans sport and there are no shortcuts.

Do you have a favorite place to run:
Chris: I love running anywhere there are trails. I also love running in new cities. When my wife and I travel one of the first things that I will do is go for a run. It really makes the layout of a new place easier to understand.

How about a favorite food:
Chris: PIZZA. I Love it. I also love seafood especially sushi.

How about a favorite movie, book, music?
Chris: My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption. I love almost all of John Grisham books and really don't have a particular music preference.

What are your memories of running at Gloucester Catholic?
Chris: I remember the people that I ran with at GC. I enjoyed the times that we got to travel and run together. I remember the times that I got to run with my coach (Jack Heath). I also Gloucester Catholic standouts Ann Wodarczyk and Chris Callinan before the New Jersey Cross Country Meet of Champs at Holmdelenjoyed meeting and spending time with Browning Ross. I still see some of the people that I ran with at Gloucester Catholic.

What do you like best about coaching?
Chris: I enjoy spending time with the kids that I coach and the coaches that I work with. Our XC team has won 5 state titles in the last 10 years. Out track teams have won a sectional title, and the last 2 Burlington County Championships. We have grown our track team from 30 boys to this year over 100 boys on the team.One of the best things that has happened as a coach is having a Foot Locker National Qualifier and also a runner who was invited to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista CA. (We went out and spent a week there, it was amazing).
Chris Callinan and best men in wedding day race
How about something not many people know about you?
Chris: I love teaching math and computer science. I also was the teacher of the year this year for Cherokee High School. The pictures here are from the race that I did with my groomsmen the day of my wedding.

No comments: