Former Princeton men’s squash coach Bob Callahan diedon Tuesday. He was 59.
Callahan passed awaythis Tuesdayafter a long battle with brain cancer. He is survived by his wife, Kristen, and his five sons: Greg ’05, Tim ’07, Scott ’09, and Peter and Matt ’11. In the four decades he was involved in Princeton squash, Bob Callahan went on to touch and inspire players and colleagues alike.
Callahan had a large impact on squash at Princeton - the last time he was not involved in Princeton squash, Richard Nixon was still sitting in the Oval Office- and in the squash community nationwide. Callahan succeeded at every level of the game, having played on three national championship teams in his time as a student and captaining the team his senior year in 1977.
His coaching career is what ultimately put him in the Princeton record books. Callahan arrived as a coach in 1981, and went on to coach for 32 years at Princeton, leading the Tigers to three national championships in 1982, 1993 and 2012.
“A coach’s immortality lies in leaving the vestige of oneself in the character development of one’s players,"Gary Walters, Princeton’s former athletic director, said."The word ‘legacy’ is often overused in today’s society, but Bob’s body of work over a 32-year coaching career merits such a term.”
The 2012 championship was one of the highlights of Callahan’s illustrious career, as he led Princeton to victory in an upset over powerhouse Trinity College, which had won 13 years in a row.
The accolades he received during his coaching tenure certainly came as no surprise. In 2012, Callahan was inducted into the US Squash Hall of Fame, and in 2014 was also inducted into the Men’s Collegiate Squash Association Hall of Fame. Later that year, in the fall of 2014, Princeton named the men’s squash head coach position to the Robert W. Callahan ’77 Head Coach of Men’s Squash.
However, as with all great coaches, the story goes beyond just the awards and victories. Ask anyone who played under him or worked with him, and one can see that the championships don’t reflect the kind of influence he had.
“[He was] a one-in-a-million individual who exuded kindness, generosity and character integrity,"Yasser El-Halaby, one of the best collegiate squash players of all time, said."The many lessons I have learned … from Coach Callahan are not restricted to the game of squash, but encompass all aspects of life.”