My First Gatorade Bath-Why I Coach

Gatorade baths to coaches are like walking into a surprise birthday party or getting your first kiss. They are a very American way of celebrating an important victory in sports. Chicago Bears Hall of Fame Coach Mike Ditka was the first known coach to get doused with the sports drink in 1984. Gatorade dumps are sacred moments that some coaches never get to experience. I was lucky enough to experience my first orange bath in just my second month of coaching.

Like many college graduates of the past couple decades, I really had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated. I had just finished with a journalism degree from West Virginia University and didn’t really want to use it at the age of twenty-two. In spring of 2002, I moved back to Winston-Salem and I was living in an apartment with my friend, Graham Lyles, near Hanes Park.

We slept in late, frequented bars like Black Bear and The West End Opera House, and we held off becoming adults as long as possible. Graham was interning at Baptist Hospital and applying to medical schools and had his life figured out. I had no idea what I wanted to do with mine. I had my first two jobs fall in my lap and they both would alter my course.

I was living my lazy life that summer and I ran into Coach James Williams, my high school soccer coach at R.J. Reynolds. He told me that he had a friend that was just hired as the varsity boys soccer coach at North Forsyth High School. He was looking for an assistant coach and junior varsity head coach. I agreed at the time just so I could say that I had a job, even though it was just part-time.

I had to get more work so I substitute taught in the school system. After two weeks, I subbed in an autistic classroom at Jefferson Elementary, and luckily for me, a position opened and I was hired in that classroom the following week. Coaching high school requires you to have a job that gives you afternoons off, so this job at Jefferson was perfect. Working with autistic kids for two years was something I won’t ever forget, but that is for a different blog.

North Forsyth was a decent program when I was in school four years earlier. The dynamic of the team and the diversity of the school had changed substantially in just four years. The school had a much larger Hispanic population and the soccer program went significantly downhill due to a decrease in talent-level, but more importantly not being able to keep good coaches around.


Being twenty-two, I really didn’t research the coaching position like I would research a job nowadays. North Forsyth’s J.V. Boy’s Program didn’t win a game the year before. They not only didn’t win a game, they didn’t score a goal!

My first day was the first day of tryouts. The j.v. pool was eighty percent Hispanic, ten percent country, and ten percent from the travel team crowd that I grew up playing with. There were Hispanic players around when I grew up, but they wouldn’t try out for their high school teams for various reasons.

I was twenty-two at the time, but I looked sixteen at most. I could have easily been one of the players in the eyes of the parents and other players walking down to tryouts that first day. Tryouts were easy since the varsity coach put them together. All I had to do was evaluate the players I wanted, which was also simple since there weren’t enough for me to make any cuts. I was going to get what the varsity coach didn’t want.

There were two freshmen wearing Twin City Soccer Club shirts that I really wanted on my team. They had grown up playing in the same club I played on and you could tell. They were as talented as the juniors and seniors out there. It was all up to the varsity coach. Did he want to keep 18 or 20 players and give me 16 or 18. He decided to take the two players, and put me on the back-foot of my first coaching job right off the bat.

My goalie was on the larger side of the scale. Some of the Hispanic players didn’t speak English, so I had to designate two of the players as team translators. The Hispanic players were my most technical players, but they also didn’t have any history of playing for an organized team. I had a couple players that had played organized club soccer and a couple players that had just a couple years of recreational soccer under their belts.

It was a rag-tag group of players, with a young coach with absolutely no coaching experience playing in a conference with schools with much more soccer history and soccer talent. The cream of the crop in the conference that year and many years before was Mt. Tabor High School. Their varsity team ended up winning the North Carolina 4A State Championships that year.

I knew a lot about Mt. Tabor, because they were my high school’s rivals for four years. Unfortunately for the first three years, it wasn’t much of a rivalry. Thanks to a long goal by my good friend, Daniel Eggers, we beat them just one time in at least eight attempts my freshmen through junior year. My senior year, they not only were more talented than my team at Reynolds, they were also more talented than most teams in the country. They were ranked in national high school polls and first in the state. My senior year, I learned that you could beat the talent of Mt. Tabor with heart and brains. We ended up beating them twice that year and winning the conference title for Reynolds for the first time in over a decade.


Their junior varsity team was more talented than the varsity team at North Forsyth. We did okay the first couple of weeks of games. We actually had a couple ties and had scored some goals. Then we had to play Mt. Tabor. The game was at home and there was a large crowd filtering in to the stadium in anticipation of the varsity game with the top team in the state.

They scored two goals in the first five minutes, and that was all she wrote. They were up by six at half, and cruised to an 8-0 win on our field. An 8-0 soccer win is equivalent to a 56-0 football win or forty to fifty point blowout in basketball. When a team starts to play keep away from your team, it is very embarrassing as both a player and a coach. Mt. Tabor played keep away from us for the majority of the second half. In losses, coaches look for bright spots to move forward. There were no bright spots except for when the referee finally blew the whistle to end the game.

The week didn’t get much better as we went to powerhouse Greensboro Page and they beat us 10-1. Conference play didn’t get off to a great start to say the least. Over the past twelve years, I have learned a lot about coaching soccer technically and tactically. No matter how much I learn about systems of play or the newest moves, it still won’t compare to as much as I learned that following week about coaching from the heart.

The week before we traveled to Mt. Tabor I made practices more fun. We still had our fair share of fitness, which is still important to me as a coach, but for the most part the team left every practice happy even though we were coming off two atrocious games.

During that first slaughter with Mt. Tabor, I also learned how important it is to really get to know your competition. I paid close attention to Mt. Tabor’s strengths and weaknesses. In their 8-0 win, there were a lot more strengths on my list than weaknesses.

We got off to a good start to the re-match week with our first win of the past two seasons and it was a conference win. There was a spark in the team that week that I didn’t see before and they actually believed they could win at Mt. Tabor. Though I didn’t have the same confidence, I did feel that we would have a better showing that the 8-0 drubbing from the first game.

Just like most j.v. games in high school sports, nobody really shows up until the second half to get ready for the varsity game. This played into my plan. My players didn’t have much to be nervous over since nobody was there, and the Tabor players didn’t really have anybody to impress on their side.

In sports it is hard to get psyched up for a re-match after you killed the team the first time around. I knew that the first ten minutes of the eighty minute game would set the tone for both teams. I constantly repeated to the team that week to not let them score the first ten minutes. If we held them the first ten, we would have a shot for the whole game. We not only held them off the scoreboard, we knocked in a goal. The first game we didn’t have a shot all game, and the second game we already had a goal in the first ten minutes.

We woke a sleeping giant after that goal and they pounded on us the rest of the half. My large goalie was diving left and right and playing out of his mind. He was “in the zone.” I also had a budding star emerge. He was by far my smallest player, probably no taller than five feet and around a hundred pounds. He was very similar to my size when I was a freshman at Reynolds. He also spoke very little English. That day at Mt. Tabor, he came out of his shell. He was dribbling circles around the much larger and stronger Tabor players, who were wearing the navy and white striped hand-me-down jerseys from the varsity team that I played against when I was in high school. He provided the first assist on a beautiful pass and he was our only real offensive force in the first half.

At half time, the team was as excited as a team could be and I had to tamper down their excitement a little bit. The stands were starting to fill for the varsity game and I knew that it would be hard to repeat our first half performance, especially with Tabor now having a reason to play. Once again, I emphasized the first ten minutes of the half. “Hold them again and we can maybe beat them,” I repeated over and over.

Miraculously, once again against the run of play, we scored and shockingly took a 2-0 advantage. They threw the kitchen sink at us for the final thirty minutes. As each minute passed, I pushed my team further and further into our defensive end and made as many time-killing substitutions as I possibly could. With about ten minutes left our line of defense cracked and Mt. Tabor struck a goal to cut our lead to 2-1.

Fortunately, they never really had any good chances over the last ten minutes.Our parents were standing and cheering and our varsity team bypassed their warm-ups to cheer us on for the final minutes. With a final couple clearances of our defensive area, we held Tabor off and the ref blew that final whistle, which is music to a coach’s ears when he or she is winning a close game.

My team stormed the field, which is very rare at that level, and to my surprise I had the chilling relief of the Gatorade bucket dumped on my back by a couple players on the bench. Freezing ice being poured over your head on an already chilly day might not sound like fun, but it is one of the greatest thrills a person can experience. I spent the next ten minutes shaking hands of parents and even the varsity coaches from Tabor. That whole time I could hear and see our old, white activity bus shaking with cheers and jumps while I was more than fifty yards away. The ten-minute ride back to North was filled with songs like “We Are the Champions,” and even some Spanish songs where I had no idea what they were singing.

The game also didn’t end up being a fluke. Later in the season, we played Page at home and after their 10-1 slaughter at their place, we played them to a 2-2 tie at home. We finished the season with five wins and three ties from a team that didn’t win the year before. Though the Mt. Tabor win was just a junior varsity level win, it meant much more to me. It was the moment that I found out what I wanted to do with my life.


Men Aren’t Strong Enough to be Teachers

Thank you to all female teachers. The male gender should thank you daily for taking care of one of the most important professions to ever exist. Thank you to women like my mom, who spent over thirty-years making the world a better place for children of all races and backgrounds.

As a former male teacher, I can tell you that men are not as mentally strong as women. We might be faster on the playing fields and stronger in the gyms, but there is a good reason that around seventy-five percent of public school teachers are women. Men can’t handle the job.

LeBron James might be the best basketball player in the world, but let’s see how he does teaching summer school in the off-season. Bill Gates might be one of the smartest men of this generation, but let’s see how he handles a classroom full of third-graders. Instead of presidential contenders spending millions of dollars this year politicking around the country, just put them in a kindergarten classroom and see who can handle it the longest. The open-mindedness and life inexperience of a kindergarten classroom would fit for a perfect poll of the candidates.

Some people actually believe that teachers are paid too much. People say teachers are just glorified babysitters that get way too much vacation time. Presidential candidate, Chris Christie of New Jersey, went as far as saying that “teachers are paid too much, and bankrupting the system.” Christie actually cut New Jersey subsidized meals. Looking at his size, Christie probably just wanted more food for himself.

There is a reason that the percentage of male principals is much higher than the percentage of male teachers. Men as a species can’t handle a classroom. We can’t handle getting up early and always having a smile on our face. We can’t handle making lesson plans everyday. We can’t handle countless phone calls, emails,  and drop-ins from worried parents. We can’t handle disciplining twenty children daily. We can’t handle a kid throwing up on our shoes or needing a shoulder to cry on.


This is not to say that there aren’t great male teachers and there aren’t bad female teachers. There are plenty of both kinds. I don’t think I was an awful teacher in my five years in the school system. I just wasn’t nearly as good as a lot of my female co-workers. I loved working with the kids! I hated having to set up meetings with parents. I strongly disliked getting up early and having to type up lesson plan after lesson plan. I hated all of the meetings.

I wasn’t strong enough to teach for a lifetime. I honestly think that the male genes, for the most part, just can’t handle teaching. There is something implanted in the brain of a female when they are born that gives them the intelligence, creativity, sustenance, and patience to teach for thirty-plus years that men don’t have.

It is a complete mockery that teachers in my home state of North Carolina average a salary of just over $47, 000, which ranks 42nd in the United States. This has been a problem for both Democrat and Republican governors in North Carolina, and it is blasphemy. It needs to be fixed. Teachers deserve more compensation for their work in our state. If men made up seventy-five percent of teachers, I can guarantee that teachers would average a much higher salary.

In a recent study, among the study’s findings, North Carolina ranked 51st in ten-year change in teacher salary; 48th in public school funding per student; 47th in median annual salary;  and 43rd in teachers’ wage disparity. We finished in dead last in a category. This is unacceptable! Our teachers deserve more.

When I was student teaching, I was very lucky that my great teaching mentor, Mary Ann Davis, placed me with Susan Reeve. Susan was a second grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Winston-Salem. Her husband is a strength coach at Wake Forest University, but he gets all of the strength he needs at home from his wife. Not only was she a highly entertaining teacher to learn under, she also is a breast cancer survivor. Women like Susan are as tough as any football or basketball player and they are just as good as a role model to our youth.

It is time teachers are appreciated the way they should be. It is time that men realize that we don’t teach by choice, but that we don’t teach because we aren’t strong enough to do it.


Byron Hill: Famous Winston-Salemites

Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.
Byron Hill’s family moved to Winston-Salem in 1953. His mother was a public school teaching assistant and his father was a technical illustrator. In 1978, he moved to Nashville and became a ten-time American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award winner and has thirty-two U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits. His songs have generated more than 700 recordings and seventy-seven Radio Industry Association of America (RIAA) gold and platinum awards.
Hill has written songs for eleven artists who have gone on to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame perform his songs. Performers of his songs have included artists like Ray Charles, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn,George Strait, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Randy Travis, Jason Aldean, and Kenny Rogers. His songs have been recorded by artists from twelve different countries over his four decades of writing music. Hill is currently a staff writer at Dan Hodges LLC and serves on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. He currently lives in Nashville and is married and has one daughter.
Follow Hill at his website: Below Hill answers questions about his time in Winston-Salem and his favorite things about our city:

Winston-Salem Questions:

When all have you lived in Winston-Salem?
I lived in Winston-Salem from 1953 until 1978. My family still lives there. I have three younger siblings.

Which Winston-Salem streets have you lived on?
As a very young child, we lived in Cloverdale Apartments, then moved to the South Fork area when I was 5. We lived on Kyle Road in Gordon Manor. After I returned from college at Appalachain State University, I lived on Sunset Blvd., Crafton Street, and West End.  My family remained in the South Fork area until the mid-1990’s. My mother now lives near Ardmore and I have a brother in Clemmons.


What different Winston-Salem schools did you go to?
South Fork Elementary, Southwest Junior High, and West Forsyth High School.

Who were your favorite teachers?
Many, but my sixth grade teacher was Mr. Richard Snyder and he encouraged me to be creative with my writing. My band teacher at Southwest was Richard Conklin. He was great. There were many others at junior high and high school…too many good ones to name.

What got you interested in music?
My father played guitar and I started playing when I was ten.  My influences were The Carter Family, Bluegrass, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and especially Kris Kristofferson. I started writing songs when I was sixteen.


Who all in your family are musicians?
Just my father. He played guitar and Harmonica


Where all did you have jobs in Winston-Salem?
My first job was mowing lawns and picking blackberries. Then I worked for Dr. Eubanks (a veterinarian in South Fork), at Club Haven Pharmacy, for O’Hanlon-Watson, at Baptist Hospital Pharmacy, a part-time job at Cheap Joe’s Jeans, a part-time job at a wine distributor, also Hanes Dye & Finishing (a summer job that turned into a year), Ridgetop Records, Hunter Publishing Company, and my favorite job was at Dixie Music Co. (where I taught guitar for 3 years before moving to Nashville).

What are your top three local Winston-Salem restaurants of all-time?
Way back it was Staley’s. A longtime fave has always been Vincenzo’s, and now my fave is West End Café.


What is your favorite place to go in Winston?
Downtown Fourth Street.

What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
My family rarely went to the NC beaches, so I’ve never been an expert on where to go, but I really do like Southport and the Outer Banks in general.

Where is your favorite place in the mountains in North Carolina?
That would be the Boone/Blowing Rock area, but I also like Black Mountain.




My Uncle Beat Up the Beatles


The year was 2002 and I was home for Christmas break from my senior year at West Virginia University. My sister, Lawren, was taking a break from the fast-paced life of Brooklyn at home as well. My Uncle Jacob was in town from the Madison, Wisconsin through the 25th.

We spent the night of December 23rd at home playing games like Trivial Pursuit and Boggle. Anyone that knows my family knows that we get very competitive with each other when we play games. My parents and Uncle Jacob were drinking wine throughout the games, and I’m pretty sure Uncle Jacob had more than everybody else.

When my sister and I each had five pie pieces, she brought up that we should walk up to Burke Street and get a drink at one of the bars. The street of bars and pubs was located just up the road from our West End home.

My parents were pouting because their team only had two pie pieces, so they said they wanted to go to bed. Uncle Jacob was working on a pretty strong buzz at that point so he agreed.

It was an abnormally cold night for a North Carolina late-December evening. My dad made us wear toboggans before we left, since he still believes to this day that you avoid getting colds if you wear one. Uncle Jacob went in a t-shirt saying that “this is summer weather in my parts.”

We passed by Gatsby’s and got to Black Bear. We considered going in there, but didn’t think Uncle Jacob would enjoy not being able to breath, since it was the smokiest bar in the history of the world. We really didn’t want to see any fights (we thought), so we avoided Burke St. Pub.

We crossed the street and headed to the Rubber Soul, which was the closest bar to our house. There was loud music coming from inside, and we saw a sign on the door that said, We Are The Walruses!, which was a Beatles cover band.

Uncle Jacob grumbled, “the Beatles stink! I wish it was the Stones, then I would go in.” He grew up listening to The Doors, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, The Who, and The Rolling Stones. He didn’t like The Beatles. In fact, I once made the mistake of buying my parents a greatest hits album of the Beatles. I’m pretty sure Uncle Jacob chucked it out the window the next time he was in town like a frisbee when nobody was looking. We finally convinced him to go in for a beer and then we would leave.

The Rubber Soul lasted less than a decade on Burke Street. It wasn’t a bad watering hole, and you could see some decent music there. It just was in one of those buildings that could’t keep a tenant, even if it was the coolest place on the Earth. That location has been bars, insurance companies, stores of various types, and it currently hosts a medical website design company. The Rubber Soul was actually closed in 2008, and the owners were sued the next year because of a shooting that happened inside the club. It must have changed a lot over the next five years after we went there that night.

We walked in and there was probably a crowd of about thirty to forty people. Several people were hanging around the bar or playing pool or darts, while about fifteen people were actually paying attention to The Walruses. We ordered some beers from one of the three bartenders and walked toward the music area, since it was less smoky than the pool tables, and they were all being used.

All of the members of the Walruses were dressed in different eras of the famous band from Liverpool. The Lennon impersonator was wearing a blue button-down shirt and blue jeans with a long wig like John Lennon on the Abbey Road cover. The McCartney look-alike was wearing a bright blue and pink outfit with a fake moustache from the Sgt. Pepper era. The fake George had on an off-white button down outfit with long, shaggy hair and a shaggy beard from the Bangladesh, early seventies era. Ringo had on a red velvet and black jacket and large colorful sunglasses from the late sixties. It made for a very interesting assortment.

Uncle Jacob did okay through “Come Together,” “Blackbird,” and “Penny Lane.” He also seemed to drink beers faster and faster as they played their songs. I’m pretty sure he was two beers in by the time they played three songs.

It all started when they started to play, “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

“Play some Stones,” said Uncle Jacob during the first verse on his way to the bar. I don’t think he said it loud enough or the whole band to hear, but Paul definitely heard him as he passed by to get another drink. They got through “Hey Jude” and “Lady Madonna,” and my uncle made it through another beer.

When the Walruses were in the middle of “All I Need Is Love,” he yelled out much louder, “PLAY SOME STONES!”

This caught the attention of The Walruses version of George Harrison. He gave Uncle Jacob a smirk, but kept on playing. Toward the end of the song, Uncle Jacob yelled, “PLAY SOME STONES!” again, and the whole band looked in his direction. He yelled it again after the song, and you could tell that their Paul was getting extremely irritated.

Uncle Jacob started to throw some boos in there and request songs like, “Beast of Burden” and “Brown Sugar.” The Walruses were becoming visibly frustration. At one point in-between songs, Lennon said to my uncle, “We are a Beatles cover band. We don’t play the Rolling Stones!” in an awful English accent.

He mouthed to my sister and I, “Well that stinks for them!”

I think the bartenders would have normally asked a guy to stop yelling, but I think the crowd was getting as big a kick out of my uncle as they were out of the band.

After “Come Together,” he actually screamed, “I ain’t too proud to beg for some STONES!”

I’m pretty sure that Ringo was slamming his drumsticks harder and harder against the drum-kit as each song went by in anger. When they played “Back In the U.S.S.R.,” my uncle started to shout his normal phrase: “Play some Stones,” but when he figured out the song he turned to my sister and I and said, “I actually like this one.”

Uncle Jacob didn’t even need any more beers as they finished off their set with pretty awful renditions of “Hey Jude” and “Let it Be.” We made the mistake of letting him sit around and talk to a fellow Stones fan that had been sitting at the bar the whole night and enjoying my uncle’s show.

We headed around the back to walk up the hill at the end of the parking lot behind Rubber Soul and had the misfortune of walking right into the Walruses. They were all loading up their van, and I think Uncle Jacob didn’t notice them until Paul shouted out, “There is that jerk that ruined our performance.” It was clear that he wanted Uncle Jacob to hear.

Uncle Jacob stormed right back to Paul and said, “You not only were playing the Beatles, but you all were awful impersonators.”

For some reason Paul continued to keep his fake British accent, “you would not know good music if it hit you in the face.”

“I don’t claim to know much about music in general, but I’m smart enough to know you sure aren’t any good,” my uncle spat back. He grabbed the fake moustache on Paul’s face and ripped it off.

Paul shoved my uncle at that point. George, I guess keeping with the tranquil personality of who he was mimicking, was already strapped into his seat belt in the van and avoiding the confrontation.

Uncle Jacob got in Paul’s face and said one of the greatest lines I have heard in my life, “You messed up and now I am going to paint your face black!” He swung a right hook and knocked Paul flat on his back. There was some pushing and shoving between my uncle and Ringo and John, before I was able to break it up with the help of some of the bartenders from the Rubber Soul.

Once the dust settled, we walked home and Uncle Jacob went straight to bed. Uncle Jacob was very quiet at breakfast. Once my mom and aunt left to go to the grocery store, he called us into the room.

“I want to make sure that you all understand that what I did last night was unacceptable. I shouldn’t have ever had as much to drink as I did, and you should always avoid confrontation,” he said to the two of us.

“It is okay,” we both made clear. “We still had a lot of fun.”

Uncle Jacob finished his speech with, “It was a pretty good time knocking that wannabe McCartney on his butt!”

To this day, my sister and I still yell, “PLAY SOME STONES,” to my uncle whenever we see him.



Birth:A Father’s Perspective-My Birth

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

The History of My Birdbrain Birth Genetics

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or in this case from the birth. I’m very lucky to have Rence and Barbara Callahan as parents. I have the best parents anyone could ask for in this world. Seriously. But in this case, my empty-head on the idea of birth came from one place: genetics. It didn’t come from my mom either; just my dad.

Just like Katie, my mom did 99.9 of the work on the birth of my sister, Lawren, and I. When I say work, I mean a nearly impossible endeavor. Pushing out a Callahan-sized head is no easy task!

On March 31, 1980, President Jimmy Carter deregulated the banking industry. Pink Floyd and Blondie had the top songs on the charts. The World Boxing Association Heavy-Weight Title between “Big” John Tate and Mike “Hercules” Weaver was fought that night. And Jay Callahan was born at Forsyth County Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

I can’t claim to remember my birth, but I have heard stories over the years. Some of these stories might be somewhat embellished from my own imagination.

There was some rain and fog on the early spring day and it was a cool 63 degrees in Winston. My parents had just moved to Winston from the sprawling metropolis of Gastonia via Charlottesville, VA via West Virginia/Pennsylvania. Lawren was three and a half-years-old and chomping at the bit to have a little brother that would never-ever get on her nerves. My parents were living in the West End Neighborhood, where I would spend my entire childhood.

My dad really wanted my mom to hold off until April 1st to give birth. Not because April 1st is April Fool’s Day, even though that day would be fitting for my birthday. Instead, he wanted me to share a birthday with my grandfather, “Daddy Tut” Callahan. I can imagine him telling my mom she wasn’t ready to go to the hospital quite yet, and to not do any Lamaze breathes once she was at the hospital. “Just hold off a little while longer!” I made it to 9:00 pm, but my mom could not wait any longer.

Just like me, my dad is a huge sports fan. In 1980, you could watch boxing on regular television and you didn’t have to fork out a lot of money to watch on pay-per-view. Along with the Tate vs. Weaver fight, Larry Holmes and Sugar Ray Leonard also fought that night. There was no such thing as televisions in the hospital rooms back then, so you had to go out into the lobby to watch the tube.

There is a good chance that the doctor that delivered me also delivered you if you were born around the same time in Winston-Salem. My mom’s doctor, Dr. Harold Pollard, just so happened to be the father of my junior prom date, Nell. It was a little awkward going into the Pollard’s house to pick up Nell, knowing that her dad was the first person ever to see me. That is a different story.

I can picture the scenario. My dad trying to sneak back and forth from the birthing room to the lobby for the fight. Between rounds, he would go back to the room to ask my mom to slow down, and just hold-off a little while longer.

Tate was the current champion and the heavy favorite in the fight. Weaver was just a journey-man fighter and was much older and smaller than Tate. For the first eleven rounds, the champion had the edge. Each round my dad would sneak back out, and each round my mom would get a little closer to my birth.

I can picture my dad being stopped in the hallway by Dr. Pollard around round 12 and the doctor telling him that it was close to time. I can see my dad going back into the lobby to check-in on the fight one more time, before he had to stay in the room, and realizing I wasn’t going to make it until April 1st. I picture several people smoking in the lobby, and it having a very “Mad Men” feel.

The last round my dad witnessed was the 12th where things started to shift in the fight. Weaver miraculously started to take control, but my dad realized he had to get back to the room

As my mom pushed harder and harder, Weaver fought stronger and stronger against the champ. I can imagine that my dad was standing at the top of the bed, avoiding all of the things most guys don’t like to see during the birthing process as my mom continued her battle.  “Hercules” Weaver knew he had one last round to knockout the champion in the 15th and final round.

With just a minute left in the fight, Weaver hit Tate with a hard right and then a hard left as my mom pushed with all of her might. As Dr. Pollard reached his hands out to grab me, the champ “Big” John Tate had his back against the ropes. As my watermelon-sized noggin popped out, Weaver swung the hardest left hook of his life crushing the champ in his jaw and knocking him out and unconscious.

I can picture my dad and Weaver simultaneously throwing their fists up in the air in joy and disbelief. I can imagine Weaver dancing around the ring and my dad dancing around the hospital room. A new champ and a new Callahan!



Birth: A Father’s Perpective

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Part I-The Pregnancy Stick (McKinley Edition)

Fathers have been going through the joy of finding out their significant others are pregnant since the beginning of the human race. Katie and I continued the time-honored exuberant tradition of finding out we were having a baby in late 2009.

The National Institute of Health states pregnancy tests started as early as 1350 B.C. The Ancient Egyptians urinated on wheat and barley seeds. If the wheat grew it meant there was a girl baby and if the barley grew they thought it was a boy. If neither grew, the Egyptians decided the woman wasn’t pregnant. Katie and I didn’t attempt the wheat and barley test.

In the Middle Ages, there were actually people known as piss-prophets that claimed they could diagnose different diseases and conditions like pregnancy by the color of a woman’s urine. If it was a “clear lemon color and cloudy on the surface,” they declared that you were pregnant. Katie and I did not use a piss-prophet.

During the 1920’s, doctors injected women’s urine into rats to test for pregnancy. If the woman wasn’t pregnant, there wouldn’t be a reaction by the rat. If she was pregnant, the rat would react like it was in heat. We didn’t inject Katie’s urine into any rats.

In the 1970’s, pregnancy tests first became available to be purchased and tried at home. The home pregnancy test allowed women to take the test in the privacy of their own residence, while taking an active role in their own health care. Katie and I went this route. In fact, Katie took several do-it-yourself pregnancy tests that winter of 2009.

Katie and I were married in October of 2008 and spent most of 2009 trying to get pregnant. There were ovulation calendars. There was rushing home because ovulation was at its highest rate. If Katie was having a Mittelschmerz, I knew I better get home to perform my duty. Ovulation felt more like matriculation to me as the year wore on.

Thanksgiving of 2009 had passed and Christmas was drawing closer and we had no luck so far. One day Katie called me home from work. We had tried some cheap, generic drug-store pregnancy tests in previous months, but they all came back with one negative line.

Katie rushed me into the bathroom of our old house in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem. She spent the next three hours in that bathroom. Luckily, we had just renovated it from a very tiny bathroom to a much more spacious area, so she was more comfortable in her frenzied state of mind.

With shaky hands and tears in her eyes, Katie showed me the generic pregnancy stick. I looked at it, but I could only see one line. There was the possibility of a second line but it was very faint. Katie said, “No! There are definitely two lines there!” We went back and forth like this and then she took the other test in the box. It looked the same to me, and Katie now had her own doubts.

She sent me to get her a full glass of water and then to CVS to get another pregnancy test. While I was gone, Katie drank several glasses of water. I had no idea what box to get, so I ended up picking out one that showed pink for positive and blue for negative. I got home and Katie was ready to go. She went and tears swelled up her eyes when she saw the result. Unfortunately for me, I am color blind. I really could not tell if it was pink or blue.

After some more arguing about the color, I went back to the drug store. This time, I was too embarrassed to go back to CVS, so I went to Walgreen’s. I just started throwing different boxes into the basket. I am pretty sure there were boxes of all sorts including: First Response, Clearblue, E.P.T., UPS, DMX, KFC and many more.

When I got home, Katie tried them all. There was water chugging, peeing, water chugging, peeing, repeat. I am a bit of a germophobe, so having to repeatedly handle the pregnancy sticks made me a bit uncomfortable. Our bathroom sink counter was filled with tests of all different shapes and sizes. The good thing was they all showed two lines, or pink, or a plus sign and Katie was definitely pregnant.

That day Katie drank several gallons of water and either peed or cried it all out. We spent over a hundred dollars on pregnancy tests to prove that we would be having our first child. Less than nine months later, Katie gave birth to McKinley on August 22, 2010.

Next Edition: The Pregnancy Stick (Hudson Edition)




My Semester of Death

Most eighteen-year-old young adults go to college to learn about freedom, new skill-sets, and partying. I learned about all of those, plus I also learned about death. During my last semester of my freshmen year, I had two out of the ordinary deaths happen within a couple months. One death happened the first week of the semester and the second happened the last week of my freshmen year.

I had to take several English classes for my minor during my first couple years of college. During my second semester, I took an English Literature class. The first class session was on a Thursday in the Tuesday-Thursday class. The elderly professor meandered into class several minutes late. She looked like she had to be in her eighties or nineties.

The professor passed out the syllabus right away. Everything she did was at a snail-pace. She explained that she was the President of the American Bronte Sister Society and that a lot of her research was on Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Reading over the syllabus, I was not overly excited about having to read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

The professor explained that she had been very ill the previous semester and that she had to take the entire semester off from teaching. She said she felt much better and that she was excited about being healthy enough to make it through an entire semester. She let us go after fifteen minutes, which was exciting to the entire class.

My grandparents lived in Morgantown, where I attended school at West Virginia University. I went to their house that Sunday for lunch. My grandfather always read the local Dominion Post and there was one sitting on the lunch table, so I skimmed it while waiting for my lunch. A couple pages in, I came across the obituary section and there was a large picture of my English professor. She had passed away the day after our first class.

I went to a school of close to 30,000 students, so I didn’t know anybody in my class. When we went back to the English class on Tuesday, there was no professor in the class by the time it was scheduled to start. Since most college aged kids don’t read the newspaper, I figured that I should inform everyone that I thought she might have passed away.

When I told this to the class, they took it a completely different way than I imagined. Most thought I was joking. I even had a couple people tell me that it was pretty messed up that I would make up that the professor died. We sat there for about fifteen more minutes, and I felt several pairs of strangers eyes beating down on the back of my head thinking I was a jerk for my “joke.”

After the fifteen minutes had passed, a younger lady came into the class and set some books on the table. She looked at the class and introduced herself, and told everyone that she had bad news that our professor had passed away. She would take over for the rest of the semester and since the news was probably shocking to us all, she went ahead and released us for the day. I don’t think anyone thought I was a jerk anymore.

A couple months later as the semester came to an end, another abnormal death happened right across the hall from my dorm room. My residential adviser was a very nice guy, but also very unusual. He was a senior and called himself the nickname of a superhero and asked that we all call him the same thing. He had a poster of the superhero on his door and several in his room.

His room was right across the hall from mine. I really didn’t see him a ton that year. We might have had one or two dorm meetings (at least that I went to over the year). We got an email towards of the end of the semester  that he wanted us to stop by his room and let us know the day we were moving out so he could come check our rooms off.

The Saturday through Tuesday before exams started on Wednesday at WVU was called “Dead Week.” Since everyone was supposed to be studying and a lot of professors cancelled classes, the campus was supposed to be “dead.” It just so happened that my residential adviser was dead in his room across the hall for the entirety of “Dead Week.”

I knocked on my RA’s door to let him know I would be leaving Thursday. He didn’t answer, and I tried a couple more times over the next couple days with no answer. Eventually I just left a note under the door, not knowing he had been in the room the whole time.

I was in and out of my room studying those couple days and attending classes. On the Tuesday of “Dead Week,” I was walking back to my dorm, and a gurney with a body under a sheet was being wheeled out of the front entrance to my residence hall. Naturally, there was a big group of students standing around and checking this out. I walked over to some of the group that I knew, and they informed me that it was my RA.

I later found out that he had been dead in the room for four days. The front door was a solid metal door so the smell didn’t seep out into my hall. Our dorms had bathrooms connected to a back door of the dorm rooms that were shared with four other rooms. Since he was across the hall from me, I didn’t share a bathroom with him. Unfortunately, for those four rooms that did share a bathroom with him, those doors were made of thin wood.

After the smell got so bad in the bathroom, and the RA had stopped responding to his superiors, the residence director broke into his room. The RA was dead near his bed. He died of accidental asphyxiation. I will not explain why somebody would die that way in my blog, it isn’t a flattering way to go!

My final semester of my freshmen year of college started with a death and ended with another. While I wasn’t close with either of these two people, they did play an important role of my freshmen year.


If I Painted Your House in 1997:SORRY!

Moral: Don’t bully your workers, you could really need them in the future.

In 1997, I was seventeen and looking for a summer job. Looking back on my seventeen-year-old self, I can honestly say nobody should have ever hired me. I would never hire that version of Jay Callahan for a manual labor job. I was an awful sandwich maker, maker of honey baked hams, and I was the worst house painter.

My friends, Graham and Yates, and I were all looking for jobs for that summer to make some extra cash and get our parents off of our backs. We came across a sign in a front yard of a house in Buena Vista that said Collegiate Painters. We were rising seniors in high school so we gave them a call.

The boss of our region was named Scott and was a rising senior at Wake Forest University. He was in charge of a crew that painted mainly middle to upper class houses in the Buena Vista and Sherwood Forest neighborhoods. Rob hired all of his painters from Wake, except for the three of us. We later figured out why he needed three high school kids and it was not a good reason, it was to give us the areas nobody else wanted to paint.

Eight dollars an hour was a great paying job back then, so we were pumped about all the Dave Matthews and Blues Traveler CD’s we could afford with all of that money. Most of the painters from Wake were looking for some extra cash, while staying on campus and taking summer school.

Graham took a three week bike trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, so Yates and I had a head start on filling our pockets. Our first house was a large, two story brick house with a lot of trim that needed painting. From the start, we were picked on by Rob. He gave us the worst areas of the houses to paint and was never nice about it.

Yates was tall, so he made Yates paint places like the pipes on the roofs and underneath the roof. I was short so I had to paint low windows and the areas behind bushes. If you ever wonder who gets the job of painting behind bushes right up against the house, it is most likely a seventeen-year-old. At one point, I had to crawl underneath a row of prickly bushes and spend a day painting with thorns poking all over me. Rob would order pizzas for lunch. He would make Yates and I keep working until everybody else was done eating, and then give us a lunch break of cold pizza. We would purposely paint windows shut by the second week, just so Rob would have to go back over them and pry them open.

Rob and his friend, John, enjoyed watching us suffer and were what the French would call le stupide. John was a track star at Wake, and was one of those guys that thought he was better than the rest of the world. I guess it was popular back in those days for college students to get Chinese symbol tattoos. John had a big fat one on his ankle. I am not positive what it meant, but I am pretty sure it was the symbol for jackass.

By the third week, Yates and I were over it. Graham was set to return in a couple days so we stuck it out. Graham was dating the step-daughter of the President of Wake Forest at the time. He made sure to let all of the painters realize this on his first day. They must have assumed that Graham could help hook them up with new scholarships or better grades with his connection, because they were kissing his butt right away. While I was rolling around on my stomach trying to not mix paint and dirt on the bottom of the house and Yates was shaking a mile in the air, Graham was basically getting massages. We had the cold pizza and he was getting a big fat filet.

After about two weeks of Graham being back in town, Yates and I were done. Yates picked us all up one morning. On the way to get Graham, we decided we weren’t going back to paint ever again. We just weren’t going to show up at the next house. We told Graham it was okay if he kept going, but there was no way the two of us would be with him. Graham probably enjoyed making good money while being fawned over, but he was a loyal friend so he stayed with us.

That morning we went to Toys ‘R’ Us and tried on roller blades and played roller hockey in the aisles until we were kicked out. Then we went and got free smoothies from girls we knew that worked at the Juice Shop. We spent the rest of the day at Forsyth Country Club pool, where none of us were members. We knew several members and we even had codes to get free lunches on friend’s accounts. We were living the high life.

For the next three weeks until it was time for soccer tryouts, we got into a new routine (sorry mom and dad). We would wake up and put on swim trunks and put on old paint clothes over-top of them. We would act like we were off to paint houses, and instead we would go play roller hockey at Toys ‘R’ Us, get free smoothies, and hang out at the pool all day. We even got a paint can and would put some paint on our clothes to make it look really official that we were working.

Two weeks into our summer job vacation, we were at a party and all three of us got pages from Rob. Back then, if you looked at your beeper and there was a 911 beside the number, it was very important. We knew it was Rob’s number and we made Graham call him after several other pages. He put the phone at the house on speaker and we listened in to the call. Rob asked what happened to us and sounded like he was about to cry. Apparently, several other painters quit, and it was down to him and John. He really needed us to help him complete two big jobs that week.

After listening to Rob beg for a while, we finally told him that we would try to show up at the address he gave us the next morning. We woke up that morning, put our paint clothes over our swim trunks and went to play roller hockey, get free smoothies, and go to the pool; while ignoring pages from Rob.

If you had a house in one of those neighborhoods in the late nineties, I am sorry about the poor paint job at the bottom of your house. Also, if you ever have high school employees, don’t be mean to them just because they are young. It might come back to bite you!


Kat Lamp-Local Winston-Salem Difference Makers

In addition to celebrating Winston-Salem natives that have moved on to do significant things outside of Winston, this blog will also celebrate local people who make a difference currently in Winston-Salem. 
Kat Lamp is a commercial artist that does a little bit of everything in the world of art, including concert posters for bands like The Avett Brothers, Andrew Bird, and Jump, Little Children. Along with the posters, she has some dedicated retail space inside Reanimator Records alongside some friends where she sells pins, greeting cards, and silly drawings.
Lamp shares a studio downtown (The Electric Pyramid) in a building with thirteen other artists, including Laura Lashley who I blogged on a couple months back (Laura Lashley Blog). The building was originally a funeral home for forty years, then the Pyramid Barber school for twenty years.Lamp also has a studio at home where she does most of her commercial work and runs her online store (website).

Lamp has designed posters for The Avett Brothers since 2010. She recently made a poster for an upcoming Estrangers show at The Garage. She started playing in bands in 1996 and started making posters for her bands. Back then it was all by hand, and she didn’t learn how to use a computer until she started working at Kinko’s in 1999. She taught herself Photoshop and started making posters for her friend’s bands and for local show promoters (Gigposters page).
Lamp grew up in Winston and in the Triad (she spent time in Greensboro) all of her life, except for a couple years with her mom in Myrtle Beach. Below she answers some questions about family, art, and Winston-Salem:

Questions about Winston-Salem:

Can you tell me a little bit about your husband and your pets?
Jeff and I have been married for 3.5 years and have been together since 2008. Jeff’s from High Point and went to school up and down the east coast. He delivers sandwiches during the day and runs sound at The Garage at night a few times a month. He also does sound every Sunday morning at Centenary UMC. We have 3 cats- Minime is a 16-year-old orange cat who looked like a mini version of a big orange cat I used to have at the time when I found him-I found him at the BP station on the corner of Peter’s Creek and Academy St. Giada is about 2.5 years old and has huge, silly eyes. We adopted her from the animal shelter. MiniMini is the baby, some neighbors found him at the gas station on the corner of Lockland and Silas Creek last June. His name is inspired from looking like a mini version of Minime, and he also came from a gas station. It gets a little confusing sometimes.

Do you have any local artists that inspire you? How about famous artists?
My studio mates at the Electric Pyramid are a never-ending source of inspiration. Laura Lashley, Shawn Peters, Ian Dennis, Kait Neely, and Andrew Fansler to name a few. Woodie Anderson and Clark Whittington are some other Winston artists who also keep me inspired.
As far as “famous artists” go, I’m inspired by a lot of different artists. This past winter I dug pretty deep into the work of Ed Emberley. I love his woodcuts and the way he simplified forms, color, and texture.


Which Winston-Salem neighborhoods have you lived in?
Quite a few! I currently live in Ardmore. We lived in Ardmore Manor when I was little. When my parents split up I lived with my mom for a little while in an apartment off Healy. Then I lived with my dad in Heather Hills, where he still lives. I’ve also lived in Southside and off First Street.


What are your top three favorite Winston-Salem restaurants?
Mary’s Gourmet Diner, Krankies, and The Porch.

What schools have you gone to in Winston? Who were your favorite teachers?
I went to Bolton Elementary and Philo Middle. I dropped out of Parkland High School three times, and dropped out of Independence High once before I dropped back in and eventually graduated from there. Independence doesn’t exist anymore, but it was a great school for “at-risk” students like myself. (I didn’t figure out I have dyslexia until I was an adult, so I had a lot of problems in school.) The classes at Independence were small and low-pressure. My favorite teachers from there were Mrs. Albert, who helped me understand Algebra for the first time (I’m dyslexic with numbers especially), and Mr. McIver, who taught art. He was encouraging and helped me get an internship teaching art at the Enrichment Center the summer after I graduated. Later I took some classes at Forsyth Tech, and Mr. Pinnix’s history classes were my favorite.


Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?
I’m more of a downtown fan, but I do like Thruway because it’s super close to our house.

If you were on a stranded island and could just have one breakfast for the rest of your life, which would you choose: Moravian sugar cake, a Bojangles biscuit, or a Krispy Kreme doughnut?
None of the above! If I was on an island forever I’d have to go with a grit bowl from Mary’s.

What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
I enjoyed going to Atlantic Beach last year for my first real beach vacation as an adult. (I’m 36.) I liked it so much I went back again with my husband. I have some memories of going to the Outer Banks a long time ago. I’d love to one day visit all the beaches of NC.


Where is your favorite place in the mountains of North Carolina?
I have some good memories from Black Mountain, Boone, and Asheville. I’d love to do some more mountain exploring, too.


Could you ever imagine leaving the Triad and if so, where would you go?
I think the Triad will always be my home. I love the gritty, kitschy, creative culture in Baltimore and always enjoyed playing shows and visiting there. Jeff has family there and I think it’d be fun to live there for a little while just for the experience and inspiration it could offer. I also love the west coast and wouldn’t mind living somewhere over there a little while, too.


I Asked Domino’s to the Prom

Fiction Story

In the mid-nineties, high school students did not have cell phones. We had to make our calls from a home phone or a now extinct payphone, where you had to scrounge around for a quarter. If you were lucky, your parents would let you have a phone in your room.

Some kids of the nineties, even had their own direct line, call waiting, call screening, and an answering machine.  I actually had a phone in my room too, but we didn’t have any of the perks like call waiting or separate lines. I also had a fairly nosy family that sometimes would pick up the phone in their room and listen in to other family members calls.

In the nineties, you had to either use the Yellow Pages, have an address book, or memorize telephone numbers. Personally, it took me about three calls of any number to have it memorized. For instance, I had all of my best friends numbers memorized.

To this day, almost twenty years later, I could recite a lot of friends now defunct home numbers for you. Now-a-days, you don’t have to memorize any numbers because they are all stored in your phone. I could also recite Domino’s number of 657-0097 to this day, because their thin crust was a meal of choice at our house.

In 1997, I was preparing for my junior prom. There was a girl that was a year older than me that I had a major crush on for a long time.  A long time for a high school male is about a month. Kelsey was a three sport star and very attractive. I was friends with some of her friends from the senior class and I would see her at several parties.

We took physics together that second semester. Being the scholar that I was in high school, I spent the majority of the time playing games in my notebook. To my luck, the teacher had Kelsey sit right behind me in her third quarter seating chart. I spent several of the forty-five minute physics classes of my junior year playing games like dots or hangman with Kelsey.

As the quarter ended, I got the wonderful news that Kelsey had broken up with her boyfriend from a rival high school. She had dated him for the last year, and this glorious break-up happened just a month before prom. I knew I better move fast if I had any chance for Kelsey to say yes.

I was too chicken to ask Kelsey in person. She was one of the lucky ones to have her own phone line her room. I called a friend that had her number and pretended that I needed her number for a question about physics homework. I wrote her number down 658-0097 and I had it memorized right away, because I was thrilled to actually have it.

I waited for a night that nobody was home at my house so I could call with peace and privacy. I actually dialed 658-0097 three times and hung up before it rang twice out of pure fear.

On my fourth call, I started to slam our beige phone down after I heard the ring, but some rare moment of bravery had me pull the phone back towards my ear. When it reached my ear, I realized somebody was on the other line.

I blurted out: “Hey, uh, Kelsey this is Jay. You know Jay from physics and the soccer team. I, uh, have brown hair. Well, I was just thinking, uh, I know I am younger, uh, I was thinking maybe, uh, just as friends, you know, that maybe we could go to the prom together.”

On the other end, there was a bit of a gasp, stifling a laugh potentially. Then a guys voice started to talk. Was it her dad? Nope. Or a brother, I did not know she had? Not quite. It was Domino’s. The guy said, “I am sorry dude, but you got Domino’s Pizza, man.”

Holy shiznit, I thought. I just used every ounce of courage in my body and then some to ask Kelsey to the prom, and I had dialed a seven instead of an eight with the third digit that fourth call. I quickly slammed the phone down.

I was too embarrassed to call Kelsey back that night. Luckily, for me, I found out the next day that Kelsey had gotten back together with her boyfriend from the other school, so I avoided the rejection I would have received if I called her number. I ended up going to my junior prom with another girl and had a great time.

I also received a free pizza less than thirty minutes later after my call to the wrong number. The people at Domino’s saw my number and had our address in their system. They must have felt pretty bad about my situation and sent me a free pizza.

On the cardboard box, somebody wrote: “Hopefully, you get in touch with Kelsey and she says yes.”