Matt Callahan was happy just to get the chance to wear the Notre Dame-West Haven uniform Friday night as a member of the team, to be a part of the pre-game layup line.
Callahan has been a team manager for the Green Knights since he was a freshman. Before the start of this season, head coach Jason Shea promised Callahan he would get to suit up on Senior Night.
“I put him on the CIAC roster on Day 1,” Shea said.
Notre Dame was well on its way to its 18th straight win versus no losses Friday night when the chants from the crowd came to put Callahan in against Career. Shea did so with 4 minutes left.
“I was only expecting to play for about 15-20 seconds,” Callahan said. “I’ve never put a (basketball) jersey on in my life. I played Little League Baseball, but other than that, this was the first time.”
Then came the moment that has made the rounds on social media. Let’s let Callahan tell the story.
“Once I got past half court, I saw the open corner,” Callahan said. “I ran over there. Justin Covington passed to Ben Carroll, then Ben dished to me and I shot it. I saw it for a couple of seconds right when I released. It looked good.”
On a night @CoachShea1 squad made 11 three-pointers, it was the final one that brought the house down. Four-year team manager Matt Callahan ’19 calmly drills 3-ball in front of the @ND_Greenmachine. #stoletheshowonseniornight #cantfakethatcrowdreaction #ctbb #weareND pic.twitter.com/t4NGZQ8apg
— NDWHAthletics (@NDWHAthletics) February 9, 2019
Many of the fans at Tonelli Court and the entire Notre Dame bench stood in celebration. “I think it was sort of icing on the cake. Getting in the game meant the world to me to. To make that shot was incredible,” Callahan said.
Callahan did take another shot, but missed. So he ends up shooting 50 percent for his career.
“To watch him knock down that shot was maybe the best moment in my life in a basketball gym,” said Shea, who both played for Notre Dame and Connectiut College. “He is the most selfless person I have been around, so for him to get that moment, it was completely gratifying in every way.”
Shea said Callahan was cut from the team as a freshman, but then offered the opportunity to be the team manager. He’s missed just one practice in four seasons.
Many Sundays, Callahan beats the head coach to the gym.
“He usually gets 500-700 shots up before practice starts,” Shea said.
Right down to the way his fellow teammates and students lifted Callahan up on to their shoulders after the game, it’s not hard to make the correlation to a famous walk-on football player at a certain college university by the same name that had his moment in the sun turned into a movie.
“I love that movie (Rudy),” Callahan said. “When I sat down in the locker room, I thought, ‘This is really what Rudy was about, like the tackle (sack) Rudy made and how they all lifted me up after the game.’”
Callahan is looking at Providence as a possible destination for college. He plans to major in marketing.
“I’d love to be a team manager at the college level,” Callahan said.