By Mary Kay Mauro
Fearless advocate, tender mentor and friend are a low ways Carol Callan has been described. Her impact on women’s basketball locally, nationally and on the international stage is unmatched.
She was the national team director and an architect of women’s USA Basketball for 26 years guiding the program to seven Olympic gold medals, five of the past six FIBA World Cup golds, numerous gold medals at junior events and an international record of 118-1. Callan was responsible for all facets of
the historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team that posted a remarkable 52-0 record. She assisted with the 1996 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball team that went 8-0 and won what is now the first of seven consecutive gold medals. Also, Callan oversaw the women’s USA Basketball’s 3×3 program which debuted last summer as the U.S. Olympic 3×3 Women’s Basketball team and took home a gold medal.
“The success of the women’s national team program has been consistent, dominant and inspiring, and that is what Carol embodies. Excellence trickles down from leadership positions to the play on the court, and the one person who has always been there is Carol,” said Five-time Olympic and four-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist Sue Bird.
Callan retired following the team’s gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games. In August 2021, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Callan is in her third year as president of FIBA Americas (International Basketball Federation). In 2019, she was elected the 11th and first female president of FIBA Americas and awarded the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball.
“Having had the pleasure to be around Carol in one capacity or another for her entire tenure, I can say, without reservation, that Team USA would not be what it is today without her contributions” said Dawn Staley, former head coach of USA Women’s Basketball who led the team to an Olympic gold medal last summer and who played on the first gold medal team in 1996.
The impact of USA Basketball has translated to the younger levels. Since the launch of the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2009, Callan’s teams in the traditional five-on-five format have captured 21 gold medals, one silver and one bronze. In addition, the USA is listed as the reigning champion at the U16 and U18 FIBA Americas Championships and the U17 and U19 FIBA World Cups. Prior to leading the USA National Team program, she was a volunteer committee member with USA Basketball for nearly seven years. From 1989-95 she was a member of the Women’s Player Selection Committee and was the chair from 1992-95, while serving as a member of the Women’s Programs Committee and for the Executive Committee as secretary.
Her Colorado ties run deep. After graduating from the University of Colorado (CU), she spent 10 years as director of athletics/activities and two years as an assistant principal for Fairview High School in Boulder, where she also coached the Knights to the 1985 girls’ basketball state title. Additionally, she has long served as the radio analyst for CU women’s basketball.