Bob Callahan ’77, pictured before a match against Yale in 2010. (Photo: Beverly Schaefer)
The men’s squash season at Princeton started in typical fashion, with the Tigers winning their first three matches. But for head coach Bob Callahan ’77, back on the bench for his 32nd season, this year has been anything but typical.
In March, weeks after his team won the national championship in a thrilling, come-from-behind match against Trinity, Callahan was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Surgery soon followed, along with radiation and chemotherapy.
Callahan is receiving treatment in a clinical trial and said that he feels good, though he gets tired more easily. A recent MRI brought some encouraging news, but Callahan also is realistic about the long-term survival rates for brain cancer. The illness, he said, “has certainly made me appreciate what it’s been like to be involved with Princeton squash all these years.”
Generations of Princetonians — and others in the squash community — are grateful for Callahan, who was honored with induction in the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame in October. Trinity coach Paul Assaiante introduced Callahan at the ceremony and told the Main Line Media News that the Princeton coach “teaches perfect balance between life and the sport of squash.”
The same balance is apparent in Callahan’s view of the University. In a recent conversation with PAW, he spoke excitedly about this year’s team, but he was just as enthusiastic about going to the entrepreneurship club’s recent elevator-pitch competition and reading about Princeton’s new partnerships with peer universities in Brazil, Germany, and Japan. Callahan, who coached each of his five sons at Princeton, also was thrilled to talk about his first grandchild, a baby girl born last month. “Life is funny,” he said of the ups and downs of this year. “We feel very fortunate.”