Mike Callaghan ’13, a 2013 graduate and 1,000 point scorer for the men’s basketball team recently finished his first season playing in the Irish Premier League after a stellar four-year career as a Cardinal. In his inaugural season for Moycullen Basketball Club, Mike led the league in both points per game (26.2 PPG) and rebounds per game (14.9 RPG). We sat down with Mike to get a peek into his adventure playing overseas and experiencing a whole new culture and lifestyle.
Also, go to <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bry05ug8yI > to see a great play by Mike during his playing season.
Q: How would you summarize your overall experience of playing professionally in Ireland?
MC: Overall it was a life-changing experience. Having played a sport that crossed over both semesters at Wesleyan, I never had any chance to experience another country in a long-term manner and the immersion into another culture was a learning experience from which I benefited greatly. In addition, playing professional basketball was a goal of mine upon graduation from Wesleyan and to fulfill that goal through hard work and persistence was extremely gratifying. Also, I was fortunate to play for a great club that really supported me and set me up for success. I will always be extremely grateful to Moycullen Basketball Club for not only giving me the opportunity to live a dream of mine, but also for treating me with amazing hospitality and respect.
Q: What was your favorite part about playing overseas?
MC: My favorite part about playing overseas was the prospect of truly pursuing a passion of mine and genuinely enjoying my job. I was not sure what I wanted to do as far as a long-term career so decided to give playing a chance. It worked out, and having basketball be my full-time job was very enjoyable and I did my best not to take it for granted.
Q: What about Wesleyan prepared you to play overseas?
MC: In a cultural sense, the diversity you encounter everyday at Wesleyan—in the classroom, at the athletic center, in social settings—was irreplaceable in terms of preparing me to understand people from other walks of life. Basketball-wise, spending four years under Coach Reilly really instilled in me important life values like hard work and accountability. Also, the fellow seniors with whom I graduated (Shasha Brown ‘13, Derick Beresford ‘13, Matt Hogan ‘13, and Greg St. Jean ‘13) were extremely supportive and I know without a doubt I never would have played professionally if I didn’t meet them. Greg St. Jean especially spent a lot of time with me in the gym helping me improve my skills during our senior spring, which was a sacrifice he made for me that I really appreciated.
Q: What parts of your game did you work on specifically after your time at Wesleyan in order to set yourself up to become the leading scorer and rebounder in the Irish Premier League?
MC: My goal was to really improve my guard skills and Greg and I worked on that a lot. I spent a lot of time handling the ball and getting shots up. When I got overseas, however, I ended up playing more power forward, which is what I played in college, so I was comfortable there. While I was there I took a lot of pride in working on my game and putting in extra time to really try to earn my position with the club everyday. Fortunately, the hard work paid off.
Q: How did you experience the culture of Ireland outside of basketball?
MC: Ireland is a wonderful country. I think without a doubt the biggest aspect of Irish culture that impressed me was the hospitality of the people across the board. You would be hard-pressed to find somebody in Ireland who wasn’t friendly and helpful. Outside of that, the countryside is extremely beautiful. I did see enough rain to last a lifetime, though.
Q: Did you do any traveling once you were done playing?
MC: I took an impromptu trip to Paris, France. It was a really cool trip. I went by myself and basically just flew by the seat of my pants for 48 hours. It was probably one of the most memorable times of my life. Paris is incredible.
Q: What are your plans heading into next year in terms of playing professionally?
MC: I fully plan on playing again next year. The opportunity to continue my career is too enticing to pass up. It is my hope to land in another country and play in an even higher-level league. I hope that continuing to work hard will open up some opportunities for me.