John Callaghan


Coach Callaghan’s love of basketball started early in life from the time his Dad nailed a hoop on a post at the family farm and continues to this

day. His parents, who owned a grocery store (Dad was the butcher, Mom was produce mgr.) never missed a game growing up and that is also where he learned the value of hard work.

John graduated from South Kitsap HS where he was an All-Olympic league guard while leading the wolves to state his senior year. He attended Eastern Wa where he learned the importance of teaching fundamentals, organization

and discipline. While at Eastern he earned his BA /Ed in PE, History and Traffic Safety. Later he earned his Masters degree in curriculum development through Lesley College.

John taught and coached basketball in South Kitsap for 37 years. He started his coaching career while student teaching at Shadle Park HS when Coach Dave Robertson gave him the opportunity to be a varsity assistant. Shadle went on to win the state championship that year. John returned to South Kitsap and was an assistant coach for 5 years before coaching the varsity at Marcus Whitman JH for 10 years. He then coached the JV team at SK for 1 year before taking the head coaching job at SK for the next 21 years. “Coaching the varsity basketball team at South Kitsap was the only coaching job I ever really wanted.”

The following is an excerpt from former player and Coach Justin Anderson’s recommendation:

“Upon being named the head coach at South Kitsap HS, Coach Callaghan immediately turned the once downtrodden SKHS program into a juggernaut in both the Narrows League and in the West Central District. Throughout his career, Coach Callaghan led teams won 304 games (304-184,

.662), 4 Narrows League titles, 1 West Central District title and placed 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th (twice) at the WIAA 4A State Tournament. Along with his undeniable talent, Coach Callaghan has always been an absolute joy to work for. He is a true team player and always managed to foster a positive environment while bringing the best out of his players and assistant coaches. I have been an active duty member of the United States Coast Guard for over 21 years while simultaneously serving as an assistant high school basketball coach since 2001-02 at 6 different high

schools. During my time as a member of the military and an assistant coach under numerous leaders, Coach Callaghan has been the single most impactful leader, coach, mentor and adult male in my life. Coach Callaghan is a consistent servant leader that is honest, caring, dependable and a distinguished winner.”

Coach Callaghan would like to thank his players for “believing in what we were teaching and creating a family-like environment where players would run though a wall if that’s what it took.” “At the end of their SK career it was important that all of our players new that they will always be a part of the SK basketball family, cherish the relationships they made, go to college (whether they played basketball or not) and do a Good Deed every day.”

Coach Callaghan would also like to thank the Coaches that he coached with over the years for their loyalty and hard work. “I was lucky to have coached with so many great Coaches who genuinely cared about our players and the program. Those Coaches are some of my closest friends and the reason I am receiving this honor.”

Finally, Coach Callaghan would like to thank his family. “Coaching doesn’t work if it doesn’t work for your family. I have always had the love and support of my family.” John’s wife Denise has always been there to do whatever was necessary such as hosting team dinners, driving a van full of players to camp and of course sleepless nights. John and Denise have been married for 31 years. John’s kids have always been involved in the SK basketball program. Growing up they were the ball boy and ball girl. Kelsey is a teacher and coach at Olympic HS. Ryley teaches through the Mukilteo SD and is the Head men’s basketball Coach at Olympic College. ” I am so proud of Kelsey and Ryley and the amazing people they have become and their ability to make a difference in kids lives.”

The following is an excerpt from former player and Coach Brian Cox’s recommendation:

“I would imagine it can be easy to focus on overall record, state appearances, league championships, and all the accolades when considering a candidate for the Hall of Fame. With that being said, and as great a resume as John had, the number one accolade that impressed me more than anything was the lasting impact he had on his student-athletes. Student-athletes loved to play for Coach Callaghan, I loved playing for him. And so many of his former players would show up at games to watch him coach, give him a hug, and talk about life. The relationships he built in 21 years as head coach are lasting and that is, hands down, his greatest accomplishment.”