When St. Edward’s senior Jane Callaghan first ventured into the world of sports, she quickly discovered it wasn’t all about thirst-quenching juice boxes and scrumptious snacks.
She became a St. Ed’s Pirate in eighth grade when her family moved here from Wellesley, Massachusetts. It was in the fall of that first year when she did something very few girls her age are likely to do. She joined the middle school football team.
“I played in sixth and seventh grade on a league team in Wellesley, so I wanted to play when I came here,” Callaghan told us. “I was the only girl on the middle school team and it was a bit weird, but the boys were really nice. I didn’t feel freaked out by it too much.
“I really loved football when I was a kid. It was a big part of my life. My older brother played too, so I kind of come from a football family.”
She was mostly assigned to the trenches during those three years in organized football. Her primary specialty was blocking from both the tackle and tight end positions. On St. Ed’s middle school team she also got to try a little defense – and eventually got a chance to run the ball, but only when she determined that “everybody was being super nice because I wasn’t very good at it.”
Then came the transition to freshman year and some substitutions were in order.
“It was nice starting in eighth grade because I got to meet some of the kids and move into high school with them,” she said. “In high school I said I’m done playing football. I wanted to replace it with a different sport to make sure I was doing something during that season. So I tried cross country.
“I quickly learned that it was very hot when we started in August. It was tough. I’m not really the best runner; I’m actually quite bad at it. But it was a really fun team environment. That’s especially true because it was so hot. We were all having a tough practice or a tough race together. I made a lot of friends.
“Cross country is also a good sport for self-improvement. I was running with the junior varsity, so my times really didn’t matter much for the meets. I tried to improve my 5K time bit by bit – and I actually saw some slight improvement.”
Running was not her forte as she readily admitted; nevertheless, after giving up football she stayed with cross country through her senior year. That left the winter and spring sports seasons wide open. Soccer was first up in the winter.
“I played soccer a lot when I was growing up. I played for the middle school team in eighth grade and I was on the varsity team freshman year. I really liked it, but I wasn’t too great at it. We had some pretty good teams during that period and I didn’t get much playing time.
“It was also the beginning of high school and my class schedule was starting to get tougher. So I gave it up. I think now that it was the right move because without a sport in the winter I was able to focus on my classes and exams. Then I was able to pick up another sport in the spring. It was nice to have two sports in high school instead of three.”
That spring sport was lacrosse and, even better, the position she gravitated to involved less running than all of those other sports. Being more stationary served her well, but how it came about wasn’t entirely voluntary.
“Lacrosse became super trendy in my home town, so I started playing in seventh grade and I pursued it every year I was here. On my first team in seventh grade no one was willing to step up to play goalie. So what we had to do in each game was rotate – everyone had to do it at least once.
“When it was my turn I thought it was going to be scary, but it was actually super fun and super exhilarating. When the coaches here learned of my experience, I was given the backup role. When the starter graduated I was the only goalie left.
“I’ve played other positions, but I’m not great at ball handling, so I settled in as goalie.”
Getting peppered in front of the lacrosse net will cease next Wednesday night after the season finale on Senior Night. However, she might still be peppered with a few more college offers, having already been accepted at Vermont, Wisconsin, Washington and UC Santa Cruz.
Callaghan would like to make a decision by May 1.