When she was a little girl, Callie Fontana received a pillow case from Helen Belcher that said, “A future SFA Lumberjack sleeps here.” Little did she know she would actually end up right where Belcher said she’d be.
Callie, a Cypress sophomore mass communication major focusing on radio/ TV broadcasting, plans to become a sports broadcaster because she loves to talk— especially about sports. She wants to be like Erin Andrews, a sideline reporter for Fox NFL.
Along with a rigorous school schedule, Callie is also a cheerleader for the SFA all girls team, and she has been cheering since she was in kindergarten for her brother’s football games.
But this story isn’t about being a cheerleader. Instead, the story revolves around her first name. Callie is named after revered former SFA football player, Cally Belcher.
Callie’s parents, Christian and Darla Fontana, decided to name their daughter Callie because Belcher was a good friend and holds such a great legacy. Christian was Belcher’s teammate back in 1994 when he died of a brain aneurysm a week after collapsing on the field during spring practice. From the stories Callie has heard, she knows Belcher as a great athlete, student and person.
Her parents decided to change the spelling of the name because they believed it was more feminine.
“She’s heard me speak to groups of college and high school football players,” Christian said. “She knows my passion for my friend and his legacy. She knows she has more than just his name— she has to have the same heart of a lion.”
SFA was not the first-choice school for Callie. She said she tried out for other schools but didn’t make it, and SFA was her back-up plan. She knew her parents would like her to come to SFA because they are alumni. The pillowcase Cally Belcher’s mom made for her makes Callie feel as if “she knew that I was supposed to be here, and I was supposed to come and be a cheerleader at SFA,” Callie said.
Every year, Callie sees the Belcher family at the annual golf tournament held in memory of the former player to raise money for the Cally Belcher Memorial Scholarship and to raise awareness for head injuries.
“I love the game, but these kids are bigger and faster than ever,” Christian said. “Nothing is worth what we lost. Treat every head injury as if it’s the worst. I’m glad to see the concussion protocol they use today.”
Christian said Callie carries the same characteristics Belcher did. He explained what made her into the person she is today.
At Cypress Woods High School, she lost her spot on the cheerleading team, and that caused her to lose many of her friends. She also said she had to eat lunch with the counselor because she had no one else. She also tore her ACL, which kept her from cheering. Without cheer, she felt like she had nothing, but that situation is what molded her into a better person and taught her to think of others instead of herself and to cherish her sport even more than she already did.
“I can honestly say I have never met anyone like her, and I don’t think I ever will because she truly is just this crazy, rare, beautiful wildflower,” said Callie’s best friend, Gracie McIntosh. Callie and McIntosh became best friends after Callie lost all her other friends in high school, and they remain very close.
“Cheesy, I know, but anybody that spends five minutes with Callie will understand that she’s not one to blend in. She is loud and will make friends with a brick wall.”
Christian also sees the same ability in his daughter that his friend and teammate had— the ability to succeed and help others succeed.
“While I still get to do it, I get to be thankful to do what I love,” Callie said, “and have the people next to me that I love do it with me.”