Pacing the sidelines, Al Callejas was an intense, fiery competitor who evolved into the stuff of legend, becoming one of the winningest high school boys’ basketball coaches in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Before assuming his longtime coaching duties at Bishop O’Hara/Holy Cross High School in Dunmore, Al ran the offense on the hardwood of the old Brooks Gym for coach Dennis Mishko’s Little Giants.
Dennis immediately recognized his relentless pursuit of excellence: “Al was the consummate point guard. He was the unselfish player who made sure that the right players received the ball in the right spot,” Dennis recalls. “He had no ego; he just wanted to win. Al was quick with the ball and rarely committed turnovers. And when he was given the opening, he was a deadly shooter.” The 74-75 team achieved an 18-5 record and reached the postseason.
So, it’s not surprising that the on-court leader at then Keystone Junior College would morph into a natural off-court mentor, guiding his teams at the Catholic schools to more than 560 victories over three decades.
He garnered Coach-of-the-Year honors while winning several division titles and routinely appearing in the state playoffs. In 2020, Al was inducted into the Northeast Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He retired earlier this year, but the family coaching legacy continues at Holy Cross as his son, Al Jr., was named to succeed him.
After receiving his associate degree in general studies, Al returned to take advantage of the Weekender program. Keystone imparted lessons in discipline, integrity and mental toughness that became the hallmarks of a distinguished career, both on and off the court.
“We have stayed close through the years, and I cherish his friendship,” Dennis said.