It wasn’t until soccer became a choice as opposed to a chore for her that Cassandra Callahan blossomed into the player she is today. “Cassie,” as she’s known to her coach at UCSD and other players around San Diego, has played since she was 4 years old. Growing up on Coronado Island, she was a regular in the scene and started out playing with the Nado Select squad. She showed signs of tenacity and drive that many soccer stars possess at age 7. However, it wasn’t until her aunt suggested she join the San Diego Surf along with her cousins that she was able to thrive in the local soccer scene. “Even though it was a long drive, it was definitely worth it,” said Callahan of the move to the North County club. She credits her coaches for pushing her to be better and getting her to the next level competitively. Prior to attending college, she wasn’t sure that she’d want to play for a Division I school. But, choosing UCSD and Coach McManus‘ soccer program was the perfect blend of soccer and education. She continued the rigorous schedule – long days with multiple practices and continued to play at the level she was used to from her earlier days. “When I got to UCSD, I completely fell in love with the soccer program Brian created. I loved all my teammates and had a great experience,” said Callahan.
Balancing college courses with soccer was challenging but, she recounts many highlights while at UCSD’s Warren College. As a sophomore, the team made it to the NCAA final four in Georgia and unfortunately, fell short by a goal in the finals. “I will never forget that experience,” she said. Her sophomore year also marked the turning point from player to coach. Kristin “Jonesy” Jones, another UCSD alum, approached Callahan about becoming a coach for the junior varsity La Jolla High School team. At first, she was hesitant because it was a rival school of her alma mater, Coronado High. For fear of being labeled a traitor from her high school teammates, she initially remained loyal to the high school she attended. Her high school team had won in the CIF championship three out of the four years she was there. With a little more motivation from Jonesy, her assistant coach at UCSD, she took on the role of coach. She gets a kick out of being on the other side of the ball and having the power for once. “I love sharing my knowledge with the younger players and getting them to be the best they can
As an aspiring mathematics teacher, Callahan sees herself coaching soccer for the long term. That is something she realized when she played her last game as a co-ed for UCSD. The team lost in the playoffs and it hit her hand. “I remember running over to my parents, bawling my eyes out and thinking ‘I just want to keep playing soccer!” That was the moment that the soccer life became a choice and she’d share her technique with the younger kids in the San Diego community. “Teaching and coaching really go hand in hand and
I’m excited about that!” she said.
Cassie Callahan continues to coach the JV soccer team at La Jolla High, plays for the semi-pro San Diego Sealions and enjoys free time at the beach. She will be graduating from UCSD with her teaching credential in 2017.