The Rumson-Fair Haven Board of Education Tuesday approved the hire of Dave Callahan as the new head girls basketball coach at Rumson. Callahan replaces longtime coach George Sourlis, who announced his retirement in April after 30 years at the helm.

"George and I are friends, so (after receiving the offer) I called him to asked what he thought, to kind of get his blessing," Callahan said. "The more I thought about it, the more excited I got. George's legacy of winning and what he's done with the program is amazing. I know the type of kid that comes to RFH - though, hard-working - and I love working with those kinds of kids. That made it an easy decision."

Dave Callahan (right) was named the new Rumson girls basketball coach on Tuesday. (Photo by Mark Brown, B51 Photography)

Callahan has served as an assistant coach under Bulldogs boys head coach Chris Champeau for the past six seasons, during which the program ascended from middle of the Shore Conference pack to the top echelon of the conference. Rumson reached the Shore Conference Tournament championship game for the first time in 2011 and won the tournament for the first time in 2015.

"When my oldest son was playing at RFH, there would be boys-girls double-headers," Callahan said. "The girls would pack the gym and after their game ended and the boys came on, the gym would clear out. When (Champeau) came in and took over, he changed all that. He brought the enthusiasm to the program and that's definitely something I want to bring over the girls team"

After beginning his coaching career coaching the N.J. Wildcats travel team in the mid-2000's, Callahan took over the Forrestdale Middle School program before Champeau recruited him to join his staff in his second season at Rumson. Prior to his coaching days, Callahan played basketball at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Conn., completed the ROTC program at Villanova and served as a Naval Officer for five years.

While Callahan was part of a turnaround by the boys program, he takes over a girls program entrenched in winning despite playing the state's most grueling girls basketball division. Sourlis accumulated a record of 653-199 during his three decades and led the Lady Bulldogs to 14 NJSIAA sectional championships, as well as five overall Group championships.

"It really is amazing the success the program has been able to have," Callahan said. "You're jumping into one of the toughest conferences in the country for girls basketball with St. John Vianney and Manasquan. I know the expectations are high and it's not going to be easy, but we have the kinds of kids who want that challenge."

Former Rumson girls basketball coach George Sourlis. (Photo by Bill Normile)

In recent years, Rumson has competed in a Shore Conference Class A Central division that includes defending NJSIAA Tournament of Champions winner St. John Vianney and runner-up Manasquan - which won the title in 2015. Rumson defeated Manasquan this past season and has met the Warriors in the Central Jersey Group II final in each of the past two seasons - including an overtime loss two seasons ago.

Rumson graduated standouts Nicole Morris, Stephanie Lesko and Sydney Sabino, but will return point guard Tori Hyduke and versatile forward Hannah Scanlan as part of a strong crop of holdover talent.

"I want to maintain the style of play - go up-tempo, spread the floor, defend hard - and we definitely have the kids to suited for that style of play," Callahan said. "I know there's a lot of talent coming back and it's a matter of adapting to the style I'm looking to run. The good thing is I think what I want to do fits the talent we have so it has a chance to work really well."

Although living up to Sourlis's legacy will be all but impossible, Callahan was part of a staff that won a Shore Conference Tournament title - something the girls program has yet to do. The boys, meanwhile, fell short of a sectional championship during its transformation over the past six seasons.

"One thing I give (Champeau) and George a lot of credit for that I really think is important in a high school program is how they get every kid invested in the team," Callahan said. "Basketball is a hard sport. Only five players start and maybe eight or nine play every game and there are a lot of kids out there who love the game. What (Champeau) was able to do was convince every kid in the program that he was important to the success of the team. The manager was just as important as the leading scorer and I think that atmosphere is really important to the tradition here."