Callahan gets to teach golf at JCC-Olean
By JP Butler
Reprinted with permission from the Olean Times Herald
Shaun Callahan has always been a pretty good golfer.
From 2000-2003, he helped lead the Olean High School golf team to a record of 98-18 and four-straight league championships.
He carried a 38.3 nine-hole average during that span, was a three-time Section 6 representative and named the MVP of the Expressway Conference in 2001.
These days, he’s a five-handicap at his home course, Bartlett Country Club, and is a regular in the Southwestern New York-Northwestern Pennsylvania Men’s Amateur Tournament, with his best finish an appearance in the first flight semifinals a few years back.
Callahan, though, has always considered himself a better teacher than he is player. He’s always found it easier to soak up the intricacies of the game and impart that knowledge onto others than to go out and make that approach shot or putt himself.
That’s why the 2003 OHS graduate last fall jumped at the chance to be the new JCC-Olean men’s golf coach.
“I like the idea of teaching kids,” he said. “I always thought I’d make a better teacher (of the game) and this is my opportunity to do that.”
It was by total chance that Callahan had even put himself in a position to be a golf coach at that collegiate level. One day early last fall, he was scouring job openings at JCC and noticed there was an opening for the Jaguars’ men’s head golf position.
He applied right away, interviewed with JCC’s director of athletics Angela Pucciarelli and soon was given the job.
Callahan took the spot understanding he’d have to build the program back from the ground up. After the 2012 season, former golf coach and women’s soccer mentor Ben Lindquist left JCC and the program went into a one-year hiatus in 2013. But it’s back now and Callahan is looking forward to the challenge.
"We want to build it into a steady program. We want to build it to where kids actually want to go to school there to play golf,” he said, noting that players are eligible for certain tuition assistance funds.
Right now, Callahan has just two players on his roster – one of them Salamanca native Pat Fitzgerald – but he’s hoping to have five or more by the time practice starts at the end of March, weather permitting. He said that even if he doesn’t fill out a full roster this year, the golfers he does have will be eligible to compete as individuals in the tournaments they have scheduled.
To that end, he’s asking that any JCC students interested in joining the team to contact him at email@example.com. He said potential players should move fast with practice nearing and the first match scheduled for mid-April.
‘It’s important that we get kids to join so we can get the program moving back in the right direction,” he said.
Mostly, Callahan is excited to begin teaching the game he’s always loved playing.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “My home course has always been Bartlett and the home course for JCC is Bartlett, so I feel like I’m gonna be able to help these kids out quite a bit.”