SIU Baseball Coach Continues Battle With Cancer
ST. LOUIS — Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin has announced that Dan Callahan, head baseball coach at Southern Illinois University, has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the league’s Most Courageous Award.
The Missouri Valley Conference presents the Most Courageous Award to a past or present student-athlete, coach or university administrator who demonstrates unusual courage in the face of personal illness, adversity or tragedy and hose behavior reflects honor on the institution or the Conference. Individuals receiving the award might also have performed heroic feats or otherwise inspired others.
The presentation of the award will take place during the 2009-10 academic year. The actual site, date and time of the ceremony have not yet been determined.
“The strengths of the Missouri Valley Conference are and will continue to be our student-athletes and the leadership shown by our athletic administrators and head coaches,” said Elgin. “The individuals who have previously received our Most Courageous Award have had a tremendous story to tell. Dan Callahan personifies professionalism in the face of personal adversity, and he’s been an inspiration to his baseball student-athletes, and really all those who know him. We feel honored to be able to recognize him.”
A native of Springfield, Ill., Callahan is in his 16th year as the Salukis head coach. Callahan, who has recorded 414 wins, is the second-winningest coach in SIU’s storied baseball history. His passion for the game of baseball is contagious, and his willingness to assist colleagues and baseball scouts at the both the regional and national level is second-to-none.
Callahan was diagnosed with a form of melanoma in 2006 and has been battling cancer for three years. After coaching the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons, Callahan underwent a number of medical treatments and procedures which limited his coaching duties in 2009.
Although Callahan was unable to travel with his team — he had never missed a game prior to the 2009 season — he was in the dugout for the majority of SIU’s home games, providing insight and encouragement to his players and staff.
Due to his tireless staff — associate head coach/acting head coach Ken Henderson and assistant coaches Tim Dixon and Bryan Neal — and the love and strength from his family — wife Stacy and daughters Alexa and Carly, Callahan maintained his full-time status all year.
His optimism and sense of humor in the face of adversity have been remarkable, as his road to recovery continues. Callahan hopes to be able to travel with the Salukis again in 2010.