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The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

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MGS Dedicates Winning Season to Coach Sullivan

Stephen Sullivan’s Legacy Lives On
Flag+in+remembrance+of+Stephen+Sullivan
Gabi Navarra
Flag in remembrance of Stephen Sullivan

On July 12th The Morgan School lost one of the pillars of not only their athletic community but also the Clinton Community. Morgan Girls Soccer coach, and Lewin G. Joel elementary school recess aid, Stephen Sullivan lost his battle with sickness after a long, successful coaching career. The Morgan community was like a family to Coach Sully because his family, his parents, and three siblings preceded him in death. Throughout his time at Morgan, Stephen Sullivan left his mark on hundreds of soccer players. As a coach of over 50 years, Coach Sully touched the lives of thousands, so much so that the Shoreline Championship Trophy was renamed after him this year. Sully had an extremely successful career, as he was the assistant coach when Morgan made the state championship in 2010, won 3 shoreline championships in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and coached in over 12 winning seasons. He was also named assistant coach of the year by the CT Coaches Association, New Haven Register coach of the year, and Shoreline Conference coach of the year twice, including once in his final season. 

During the first season with new coach, Jon Harder, the team successfully preserved Sullivan’s memory by winning a third straight Shoreline Championship, in a 5-0 match against Old Lyme, and dedicating their powerhouse season to their late coach. They also invited the family of Sullivan to the championship game, shared the win with them, while wearing black bands on their legs, and bringing a flag that read “Remembering Coach Sullivan.” Notable awards this season include 5 players earning all shoreline honors, with senior Maeve Madura and sophomore Sadie Passante earning first team, junior Rachel Spaziano and sophomore Cora Dmeing earning second team, and Senior Glenda Zhiminaicela earning honorable mention. The team also had 2 players go all-state, Maeve Madura and Sadie Passante. Making their mark on the state,  for the first time the team was not only ranked but ranked number one in the class S, CT Insider’s coaches polls. Sullivan was noted as a coach who cared much more about the quality of teammates, and the effort put in, rather than the level of talent the player had. This meant that to Sullivan, being there for teammates, and making sure every member of the team was included in all aspects of the Morgan Girl’s soccer team, was the most important aspect of being a good athlete. When Sullivan wasn’t coaching his team to winning seasons, he supported them in other sports games, fundraisers, and school musicals. 

Another unique aspect of Sullivan’s coaching was that his process for electing captains was much more rigorous than other sports. In recent years, Sullivan created an essay prompt for each athlete who wanted to be a captain. He would then have the athlete’s essays read by the athletic board. Ultimately he considered their absences, tardies, grades, leadership qualities, kindness, essays, and his own opinions of how they were as a teammate. He often picked players who were not the most talented on the team but were valuable teammates who treated everyone equally, even if they didn’t know them personally or play on the same level as them.

 Coach Sullivan was an emotional crutch for his players as well, and players note that he knew how hard it was to deal with injuries, mental health struggles, and balancing school, work, and sports. Athletic director and athletic event coordinator Megan Sears and Casey Metz both note that they are proud of the team for stepping up this year, considering all they have been through. Social studies teacher Christopher Zawadski said that Coach Sullivan was one of the nicest coaches he ever worked with and that his passion for working with student-athletes was always evident. Mr. Zawadski said, “You could tell he cared about the kids, and that that was the best part of his day.” Senior athletes Samantha Way and Maddie Sacta note that Sullivan pushed them to their limits and encouraged them to be fighters in all aspects, but especially on the field.  Several girls soccer players say that he helped them to be confident in themselves. One of the most impressive and impactful aspects of Sully’s coaching was that he never doubted his team, even when they were losing 3-0 at halftime. He would tell them he had full confidence in them, and that he knew they could pull through to win. This was instrumental in their comeback wins in past seasons. 2023 graduate Sofie Passante said that Sully made her realize her worth as a player and that she was pushed to her full potential as his athlete. Though responses differed, it was always that Sully was a light in the Morgan community, and that he brightened everyone’s days each time he was present. 

This year the Morgan Girls Soccer team added a new prestigious award to the trophy case, the Sully Award, for team service and dedication. The plaque will be housed in the Morgan School trophy case, and the first-ever winner is Senior Glenda Zhiminicela. Though Coach Sullivan is gone in a physical sense, the lessons and impact he left his players with are something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, carrying on his memory.

 

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About the Contributor
Chloe Jackson, Writer, photographer and videographer
Hi! I'm Chloe Jackson, and this year I am a senior in the Class of 2024. I've spent my last three years here as a member of the soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as the botany club. To leave my final mark on Morgan during my last year, I decided to become a full year member of the PawPrint! I'm so excited to write articles and display differing perspectives on topics current to our community and school.

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