The Missouri Valley Conference honored late Saluki coach Dan Callahan by renaming its Coach of the Year award to the Dan Callahan Coach of the Year award.
Callahan coached SIU baseball for 16 seasons, from 1994 until his death in 2010 to neurotropic melanoma, a rare form of skin cancer. Current coach Ken Henderson was Callahan’s assistant for all 16 seasons.
“We just had a great relationship. I tell people it was almost like we were brothers,” Henderson said. “You work 15 feet from somebody all those years, and you travel together on the buses. It was a great relationship … He was an easy person to
work for. He let me do my job, he treated people with respect. It was easy, and it was fun coming into work every day.”
The suggestion to rename the Coach of the Year honor after Callahan was brought up by Missouri State coach Keith Guttin during the MVC’s annual coaches meeting in August. Once Gutton put the idea up for a vote with the coaches, it was a unanimous decision to rename the award, and Henderson said the MVC administration approved the decision in fall 2011.
“It was a no-brainer for everybody,” Henderson said.
Callahan’s widow, Stacy Callahan, said Dan Callahan was always hospitable to opposing coaches when they came to town, which earned him a lot of respect around the Valley.
“He certainly had a way about him,” Stacy Callahan said. “I always describe him as the most unselfish person I’ve ever met in my life. He put everybody before himself, and everything before himself.”
Junior first baseman Chris Serritella was recruited by Dan Callahan and played for him for two years.
“He meant the world to me. He taught me a lot about the game; he taught me a lot about how to be a person,” Serritella said. “The one thing he preached was you always do the right thing. No matter what situation you’re in, you always try to do the right thing.”
Henderson said the honor should cement Dan Callahan’s legacy at SIU.
“It’s a great honor for him and his family,” Henderson said. “It’s just something that will help remind people years from now about what a great a person he was, and how much he was cared for, loved and respected by people in the league.”