As Women’s History Month 2022 continues, we give a shout out to Mary Kate Callahan ’13 (of La Grange, IL), who made IHSA history nine years ago.
At Fenwick’s Fall Sports Recognition Night on November 15, 2021, Athletic Director Scott Thies ’99 introduced a special, guest speaker:
Mary Kate has been navigating life on four wheels for as long as she can remember. At five months old, a virus attacked her spinal cord, leaving her a paraplegic. Now, at 26, she has been around the world racing triathlons, advocating for what she believes in, and mentoring people of all abilities.
Mary Kate has crossed numerous finish lines; spending 11 years racing on U.S. National Team in the sport of paratriathlon, running marathons, and even breaking the course record at Ironman Louisville. She enjoys educating and spending time with people to show them how the fitness industry can be adapted for all types of athletes. Mary Kate has a passion for helping others find their own starting line to tap into their own potential and inner athlete.
Further, Mary Kate is the reason the IHSA holds a State Series for athletes with disabilities! As a student at Fenwick, she stood in front of the IHSA advocating on behalf of athletes with disabilities. As a result of her efforts, there is now a State Series in place. Mary Kate was actually the first to compete at State! In my 18 years at Fenwick, she is the toughest, most determined, resilient athlete I have seen.
Ms. Callahan spent a few minutes addressing the Friar student-athletes in attendance in the Auditorium, helping them to keep their sports lives in perspective. Her remarks answered three key questions that she encourages all athletes to ask themselves:
- Did I try my absolute best — no matter what cards were handed to me each day?
- Did I show up for people and help bring out the best in them when I had the chance?
- And, did I do all of this while having fun?
Last August, Ms. Callahan started a new job as senior consultant of Enterprise Transformation at footwear manufacturer Nike, Inc.