Staff Photo: John Bohn — Norcross' Casidy Callahan is the Daily Post's Field Performer of the year in track and field, after winning the state title in the discus throw. Callahan will attend Wake Forest University on a track & field scholarship.
On the opposite end of Norcross' football field stood a broad-shouldered, blonde-haired girl.
None of the 200 football players on the other side paid much attention to her.
Then the girl started picking up car tires and tossing them.
"They would say 'Who is that?,'" Norcross assistant football and track coach Sean Milligan said. "We would say, 'She's tougher than you are.' She had no coach telling her what to do. She was out there every day. She had that self determination."
She was Casidy Callahan, a senior at Norcross. Months before the track and field season began, Callahan hung around the football field house. She lifted weights on her own and then did a training session of exercises -- like throwing tires.
"She would take a tire and work on her spin on the other side of the football field. She's honed what she's done for years," said Milligan, Callahan's throw coach. "She wanted it bad enough to work every day to be the best."
Callahan's hard work and desire paid off in May when she won the Class AAAAAA state championship in the discus throw. The Daily Post's Field Performer of the Year had a throw of 145 feet, 1 inch to win the title.
"Track is my life," Callahan said. "It's all I really do. I get up and I'll go practice in the morning. Then I'll go weight lift with my club team and then I'll go practice some more."
Callahan's dedication led to a decorated senior year. She won the Gwinnett County championship in the shot put and was runner-up in the discus. She claimed the Region 7-AAAAAA and sectional shot put and discus titles. Her throw of 145-1 was the best at the state meet and she set a personal record of 145-7.5, which was the best in Georgia this year.
"She's one of the more dedicated athletes I've coached," said Norcross track coach Dale Farr, who has 30 years coaching experience. "She works year-round on her throws."
The only blemish on Callahan's senior season was her performance at state in the shot put. She had a toss of 42-2 to place fifth after high expectations to win the event.
"I think overall I had a very good season," said Callahan, who moved from Utah to Georgia prior to her junior year. "I wish at state I would have a performed a little better in the shot put, but other than that I was pleased."
Despite being winning a state championship in the discus, Callahan's future will likely be in other events. She has signed with Wake Forest, where she's expected to compete in the weight and hammer throws.
"They are my favorite, too," she said with a smile.
Callahan had the No. 1 weight throw in the nation this year of 58-8 when she won the New Balance Indoor Nationals. It's her success at that event that makes her feel like she can be one of the nation's best at the next level.
"That's the overall goal. My goal is to qualify and make it to the NCAA and hopefully place freshman year," Callahan said. "Then just build off that and hopefully be the NCAA champion one day."
Callahan dedicated her high school career to being a state champion and it led her to success. She practiced six days a week, including some holidays. She's ready to make the same commitment in college with larger goals ahead.
"I have big goals I want to accomplish. I want to be the best I can be. I want to be a national champion," Callahan said. "I wanted to earn a scholarship and have track pay for my college. I wanted to make my coaches and parents proud. There's a lot of different things that I knew practicing by myself along with my training would accomplish."