DOBSON — Ed Callaway of Elkin will receive the prestigious honor of being inducted into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame for his exceptional athletic contribution to the community of Surry County on Saturday at 3 p.m. The ceremony will be presented by the Surry County Hall of Fame Committee and the Surry County Parks and Recreation Department.
Hall of Fame inductees for this year also include John B. Anderson, Donald Gray Davis Sr., Blois Bud Grissom, Richard (Buzz) Hauser, F.A. Martin, Ben Norman and Kelly Jack Swift.
Ring of Honor inductees include the 2002 Mount Airy boys basketball team, Robert H. Moody, Al Peavy, and Keri W. Campbell and Christie Sanders.
As a youngster growing up in Elkin, Callaway was turned down when he tried out to play football. He was “too heavy,” they said. He was not allowed to play Little League, Junior Peewee or Midget football due to weight restrictions.
He was “devastated” by the setback, in part because he admired both his father and brothers, who were very good collegiate football athletes and he wanted to be one, too, he said.
It did not take the young tenacious Callaway long to get over his devastation.
Callaway decided that he would put a rain-check on football for the present but told himself that “someday” he would play for the Buckin’ Elks at Elkin High School.
With the support of parents Dick and Lib Callaway, Callaway decided to pursue Judo and fell in love with the sport.
By the age of 14, Callaway had won five North Carolina State Championships in Judo, two North Carolina/South Carolina Dual State Championships and was a Silver Medalist at the Southeastern Regional United States Judo Championship.
Callaway began being courted by the United States Olympic Judo team, and would soon make a choice. He choose football but was thankful for the experience and teaching of Judo principles that would later help him excel in his career.
The adversity of a youngster who did not make the team did not deter Callaway. Making good on his young promise and continuing to have love for the game of football, years later, Callaway tried out and made the football team for the Elkin Buckin’ Elks.
“Football was my love, my passion, I had two older brothers’ influence, both great athletes, but I was going to get some of the glory. I had to be bigger, stronger, and faster than most because I had to fight guys bigger than me, and scrimmage hard with my brothers in the yard during those years,” Callaway emphasized.
The Judo coaches were understanding and encouraging when Callaway chose to pursue football.
Callaway excelled in football at Elkin High School for the Buckin’ Elks and applied his experience in Judo from then on in every other sport that he played.
According to Callaway, it was guidance and coaching from Harry Jennings and Bud Hall, and the hard-earned experience in the backyard scrimmaging with brothers Rick and John, both collegiate football players, at the time that helped him make the adjustment from Judo champion to the tremendous athlete in football that Callaway would become.
“Coaches at Elkin High School were passing it forward,” Callaway reflected.
“Coach Jennings was a quarterback and lineman who played at Guilford College, and wanted to come back and give to community. The 1967 coach, John Charles, set the bar, and Hall and Jennings set the tone,” Callaway said.
The list of accomplishments continued to grow for Callaway each year as a football player at Elkin High School. He was selected both as All Conference Tackle and All Conference Inside Linebacker for four years in a row.
In addition, Callaway was selected as All-State Player on both offense and defense during his senior year and was chosen as an All-Star player on the WSJ Northwest Regional All Star Team.
Callaway’s most prestigious and meaningful award, he said, is the Parade Magazine High School All-American Football Team Award representing the top 50 players in the USA.
He is the only football player from Surry County ever to be chosen for this honor. The Parade Magazine High School Award was the Gold Standard for the top 100 American football teams.
The young man who was told that he could not play football in his early years was now being recruited to play offensive lineman in college football by some of the all time great coaches such as Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and Ara Parseghian, coach of Notre Dame, during the famous “Era of Ara.”
However, it was Coach Lou Holtz then coaching North Carolina State University who finally convinced Callaway to play for him. Lou Holtz coached from 1972-1975 at North Carolina State University and recruited Callaway, along with Greg Stokes (from North Stokes), the only other local who was from Stokes County to get the Parade Magazine High School Award.
At the time, it proved to be a tough decision for Callaway to make and a lot of pressure. He said that during the recruiting process, coaches were in his house talking to both he and his father, while others literally waited outside across the street for their turn.
Callaway’s father listened to the recruiters but never influenced Callaway either way. He was very supportive, said Callaway, and helped under that type of pressure.
Callaway’s father played for the Wolfpack, at wingback position, and his brother, John, played as defensive end for the Wolfpack.
His other brother, Rick, however played at UNC, along with Carlos King of Starmount, both top recruits at UNC and exceptional athletes, said Callaway.
The final decision to go with the Wolfpack was made not because of Callaway’s father’s or brother’s attendance at North Carolina State but because of Lou Holtz.
“Holtz came into the state with a high level of success. I felt that I could accomplish everything from a personal and team perspective. It was a very exciting time. If I was going away to play, I had narrowed it down to Alabama and Notre Dame, but I stayed local and because of Lou Holtz it was hard to say no.”
Callaway played special teams position, offensive guard and center and was one of the first four-year letterman in the history of North Carolina State football.
During the very first practice with Holtz, Callaway realized that he was not playing the same game that he used to. “This was high school football to the 10th power,” Callaway clarified.
“Holtz was a dynamic leader smart enough to surround himself with the smartest group. He did not want a yes man on the staff, he was a perfectionist and a disciplinarian. Every week due to the preparation work that Holtz insisted upon, we went to the field better prepared and in better condition than when we played on Saturday.”
“The insistence on preparedness by Holtz, is how we put the W’s in the column on Saturdays. When Holtz steps on the field, he is tough business and wants the work to get done.
“Offense ran all the plays designed and if we got to the 38 and messed it up, we would start again.” Holtz was a tremendous motivator and a talented technician of the game, emphasized Callaway.
Callaway played with some of the best players of all time in those Wolfpack years. He played with names such as Dave and Don Buckey, Stan Fritz, Roland Hooks, Ted Brown, Bill Cowher, Jim Richer, Mick Quick and Johnny Evans.
In the 1990s, Callaway again took another sports challenge. He joined the Atlanta, Ga., Lawn and Tennis Association known as ALTA and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) tennis team, where he played, coached and captained nine Atlanta City Championships, a USTA State of Georgia runner-up finish, and won the USTA Southeastern US Regional combined level 6.5 Mixed Doubles Hard Court Championships in 1997.
Callaway contributes his success in sports and life to a source of inner confidence, digging in and refusing to lose. “I have always been able to find a way when I was told that I could not do something or I was not good enough or was too heavy.
“I learned to turn rejection into motivation and say ‘I am right and they are wrong.’
“This was instilled in me by my parents, brothers and the greater community of Surry County. The whole area has been blessed with the tradition of winning, and not losing, by digging in and fighting.”
Callaway said that it was a surprise when he received the news about his induction into the Surry County Sports Hall of Fame.
“There are so many more people deserving than me. I did not expect it to happen. This is one of the highest athletic honors that I have ever received,” Callaway said.
Finally, Callaway’s lessons to the Surry County community are many.
Callaway emphasized that at least some of the keys to success are to be humble and to take things in stride. He also stressed the importance of family support.
“I was blessed with talent from my father. I just thought that I was doing what I was supposed to do. This is like the coronation of Judo, tennis and football for me,” reflected Callaway.
Callaway has two sons in college, David who is studying at the University of Georgia and working on his Ph.D. in religion, and Eric, who is studying education at Valdosta State University.
Reach Tanya Chilton at email@example.com or at 719-1921.