USC Upstate’s Calloway Saves Boy from Drowning

May 27, 2010 at 10:26 am

It won’t show up on any stat sheet. That’s the great part.

Jennifer Calloway, former volleyball player and now head coach at USC Upstate, had one of the greatest assists in the history of the sport Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t on the court. It was at a Spartanburg neighborhood swimming pool, where she saved the life of a 6-year-old boy.

A 2-year-old girl in Greer, however, didn’t make it. She fell into a pool on Tuesday.

The numbers should scare the hell out of parents.

Drowning is the second-leading cause of death among young children, second only to automobile accidents, and is No. 1 in 18 states. Twenty-six percent of those deaths are from drowning. Four thousand die every year. Twelve thousand more are left with brain damage.

Calloway had stopped by the pool with her children for only about an hour or so to cool off on a busy day. They had been there only a few minutes.

“Thomas is not coming up!” one of the children yelled. “He’s not coming up!”

Thomas Gregory, visiting friends for the weekend with his parents, was at the bottom.

“I just jumped in,” Calloway said. “He was little, but with him being under the water and unconscious, I couldn’t believe how heavy he was.”

She got the boy to the surface and he was pulled up on the concrete.

“He was lifeless,” Calloway said. “It was just so scary. His lips were so blue. He was so pale. We were yelling to call 911. I pinched his nose and blew in two breaths and just started. I gave him chest compressions. Then his eyes started to flutter and he started to gurgle a little bit. Everyone around me was saying, ‘Come on, Thomas! Come on, Thomas!’

“Then he sat up and he was fine. Thank God. It was just unbelievable.”

Thomas was taken by ambulance to an emergency room and spent eight hours in the hospital before being released. He walked away.

“It was a really good lesson for the other kids, including my own,” Calloway said. “They saw it all happen and we talked a lot about it.”

College coaches are trained in first-aid and also regularly take refresher courses. Calloway, who has been the volleyball coach for 14 years, is thankful for the requirement.

“All coaches are trained at Upstate,” she said. “Every year, it’s mandatory. I’d never done CPR on a person before. We do it in training. I think we’re real fortunate that it’s taken seriously.”

Thomas is lucky. His story has a happy ending.

“I can see it over and over and over,” Calloway said. “I couldn’t imagine if it had gone the other way.”

Originally posted on
By Todd Shanesy
Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:42 p.m.