Matt Callahan

Year of Graduation: 

"My greatest joy is spending time with the team. We have great kids — they are thoughtful, genuine, kind and competitive.”

On Friday, May 22, 2009, senior captain Matt Callahan ’09 and the Big Red boys lacrosse team topped Andover 9-4 to cap a terrific spring season and secure coach Eric Bergofsky’s 300th victory. “Under the lights, packed stadium, beat them, storm the field,” says Callahan, describing the game as if it happened yesterday. “That win against Andover is one of my favorite memories during my time as a student.”

Thirteen years later, Callahan has the opportunity to make some new Exeter/Andover memories. After returning to the Academy last fall as an associate director of admissions, he was named head boys lacrosse coach in March. Callahan is just the 10th head coach in the history of the program, which started in 1935. Callahan succeeds legendary coach Bill Glennon, who spent 23 years as an assistant and the last eight as head coach.

“I was so happy to be involved in the decision to elevate Coach Cal and serve as his assistant coach as we start the Coach Cal era,” Glennon says. “Matt is an excellent coach as well as a terrific leader and mentor of young men. … It is so special to have one of our own come back home to lead a strong program with a tradition of excellence.”

Callahan’s first season in the driver’s seat was a successful one as he helped guide Big Red to a 12-4 record. “This year has been a lot of fun,” he says. 

“My greatest joy is spending time with the team. We have great kids — they are thoughtful, genuine, kind and competitive.”

Callahan knows what it takes to be a successful Big Red student-athlete. He entered the Academy as an upper and found a home on the lacrosse field. During his two campaigns as a player, he was highly decorated. He earned the Joseph T. Gifford Memorial Lacrosse Trophy as MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year award, and All-New England honors and All-America honors during his senior year.

While success on the field came easily, adjusting to campus life proved tougher. “I was a little homesick, even just being an hour away,” Callahan says. “Learning to navigate academic struggles took some time. Having a team full of friends really helped me buy in to the Exeter community, become more engaged and find more success. One of the reasons I wanted to come back is to help students that are in a similar space.” 

Callahan went on to attend Tufts University, where he continued to excel on the field. He was a two-time first-team All-America, all-region and all-conference honoree. He served as team captain for the Jumbos in his senior season and was the recipient of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association William C. Stiles Memorial Award as the nation’s top defender in 2013. In December of that year, Callahan was selected by the Denver Outlaws in the Major League Lacrosse supple-mental draft.

Already at work for an investment bank, Callahan decided not to join the Outlaws, but he soon realized that his love and attention was still on the turf. He often escaped to the Tufts field in the afternoon to help at practice before returning to the office. “My adviser at Tufts once told me that I should do something that I think about while I’m pumping gas because that is what your mind naturally wants to gravitate towards,” he says. “I took that to heart. I thought about lacrosse a lot.”

The following year, an assistant coaching position opened at Tufts and he jumped into coaching full time. Callahan spent three years helping lead the Jumbos to three Final Four appearances and back-to-back national championships before moving on to Brown University, then Catholic Memorial School in Massachusetts. “I find leadership and culture building fascinating, especially when working with young people,” he says. “Lacrosse is a combination of creativity, schematics and structure, and I could not be happier being on the field every day.”

Callahan leans on his experience as a player to help guide his coaching style and is thankful for the camaraderie of his fellow coaches. “The greatest part of this year has been my relationship with Coach Glennon,” he says. “The relationship has evolved from him being my coach to him being one of my closest friends. We have such a great staff of people. I could not have navigated this year without all of them.”

— Brian Muldoon

This profile first appeared in the summer 2022 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.