A two-sport athlete, 2012 Callaway graduate Matthew O'Neal will attend the University of South Florida with scholarships in track and soccer. His soccer signing took place early in the spring, following a stellar high school career as a defender on the Callaway soccer team. As a member of regional and state Olympic Development teams, O'Neal has visited training camps in Costa Rica, England, and Argentina. He has been a member of the Central Jackson Soccer Organization since he was nine going on ten and has become a mentor and trainer to younger athletes. More recently, O'Neal was a contender for the 2012 Gatorade Soccer Player of the Year award, recognizing the most talented athlete in a sport in the state.
In track, O'Neal has amassed seven state titles in his four years at Callaway, earning three of those in 2012. He is the reigning state champion in the 1600 meter, 800 meter, and the triple jump. His triple jump record of 49 feet, set in his junior year, remains unbroken.
More than a phenomenal athlete, O'Neal was described by former principal Clinton Johnson as an "outstanding leader and model student." He graduated in the top ten of his class and is a member of the National Honor Society and the math honor society known as Mu Alpha Theta. He also played trombone and served as section leader for the Callaway High School Band. For his athleticism, scholarship, and character, he was selected by his peers to serve as the school's ambassador, Mr. Callaway 2011-2012. O'Neal earned a place in the Callaway Hall of Fame and was inducted as a graduating senior.
O'Neal learned to overcome life's challenges as a middle schooler when he and his three siblings lost their father, and their mother Valeria became a young widow. The family has a devotion to each other and to their Christian faith. O'Neal has credited his journey for teaching him to get beyond circumstances in order to accomplish great things.
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