Press Athletes of the Year: Dayshawn Reynolds and Colleen Callahan set example during tough year for Atlantic City
Dayshawn Reynolds and Colleen Callahan posed for pictures on the Atlantic City Boardwalk before their high school graduation like old friends last Wednesday morning.
Their achievements at Atlantic City High School bond them together. The two seniors are among the most talented athletes ever in the school's illustrious sports history.
Reynolds, a football and basketball standout, is The Press Male Athlete of 2012-13. Callahan, New Jersey's best swimmer, is The Press Female Athlete of 2012-13.
Reynolds led the Vikings to back-to-back state basketball championships. He sparked the football team to the South Jersey Group V semifinals last fall. A wide receiver and defensive back in football and guard in basketball, Reynolds seemed to always catch a pass, return a kickoff or sink a shot when the Vikings needed it the most.
Atlantic City may have featured more talented athletes than Reynolds, but few in school history won as many big games. Reynolds plans to play football at Temple University but might have to attend a prep school first.
Meanwhile, Callahan won eight individual state titles and is a four-time high school All-American. She competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer and will continue her swimming career at the University of Tennessee.
"Their character and their leadership has never been questioned," said Atlantic City athletic director Frank Campo, who has been at the school as a teacher, coach and athletic director for 41 years.
Reynolds and Callahan didn't know each other when they first arrived at Atlantic City. Reynolds grew up in the Bungalow Park section of the city. Callahan is from Ventnor Heights.
The two shared some classes and became friendly.
Their athletic accomplishments boosted the school's morale. It wasn't an easy school year for Atlantic City.
Hurricane Sandy disrupted the lives of many students in October. Reynolds dealt with personal heartache when his father Antuione LaQuay Harmon died on Nov. 11. The day after the funeral, Reynolds caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown to lead the Vikings to a come-from-behind 34-30 first-round playoff win over Absegami on Nov. 16.
"Facing adversity is great," Reynolds said. "It gears you to push more toward the ultimate goal. Setbacks aren't permanent. It's been tough. I'm feeling it now (his father's death) as I'm coming to the end and about to graduate. But it only makes you stronger."
Some Atlantic City swimming meets drew 300 to 400 fans to watch Callahan and her teammates. The Vikings basketball team drew big crowds during its run to a state championship.
Atlantic City sent fan buses to Rutgers University to watch the Vikings basketball team beat Linden 60-54 in overtime to win the state Group IV title on March 10.
During the game, Campo heard a loud voice urging Atlantic City on from the student section. He turned around to see that the enthusiastic fan was Callahan.
"There's been so much school spirit all year," Callahan said. "The past four years couldn't have been any better. There's a lot of stereotypes about Atlantic City High School, but I enjoyed my four years there, and I wouldn't have wanted to go to school anywhere else."
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