Jan. 18, 2006
By Amber Tyson, Athletic Communications Assistant -
Five points. Two assists. Six steals. Six rebounds. 49 minutes. 18 games. Looking at Rob Sullivan's career statistics, he may not strike you as a star member of the Saint Joseph's Hawks. Throughout his two seasons with the team however, the 6-1 guard from Northeast Philadelphia has helped lead the team in other categories. Leadership, hard work, work ethic and respect are all qualities the senior embodies on and off the court. Sullivan's love for basketball started when he was a mere three years old playing with a Nerf Basketball set.
His parents, Jim and Marilyn, encouraged his continued involvement in the sport as he developed friendships with the kids from school and around the neighborhood he played with. While he spent most of his time playing street ball, Sullivan also played on many organized teams through out the years, playing both for school and organized club leagues. "My grade school coach Jim Ricci not only taught me the fundamentals of the game but he taught me how to be a good person," says Sullivan. "I took that to the high school level where Coach Jackson and Coach Dempsey instilled those same values."
Growing up watching Saint Joseph's and the Big 5, playing basketball at a Division I school was always one of Sullivan's dreams. That dream, combined with an already growing interest in a food marketing major, Sullivan jumped at the chance to attend St. Joe's despite the fact that a number of Division II and III schools had tried to recruit him.
"I saw all the great accolades that St. Joe's has gotten through out the years," says Sullivan. "Coach Martelli has such a great rapport in the Philadelphia area. I thought that I could learn so much from him along with the other players on the team, that it was just a good time for me to take up on this opportunity."
With that in mind, Sullivan tried out for the team his freshman year but failed to make the squad. Instead he played on the junior varsity team that year and tried out again his sophomore year. This time, he made it. Sullivan describes his role on the team as a leader on and off the court. "By working hard we show the other players that work ethic is expected at this level," says Sullivan. He believes in leading by example and that hard work pays off. Sullivan's hard work and unselfish attitude has gained him the respect of his teammates and Coach Martelli.
"Rob epitomizes the passion, dedication and loyalty that this program has been built on," says Martelli. "He is a senior leader and is very vocal. Through his hard work he shows the younger players how you can give to the team when it's just the team, and not always with the spotlight on."
Success seems to follow Sullivan off the court as well. A food marketing major, Sullivan currently holds a 3.29 GPA, proof he consistently works as hard in the classroom as on the court. Like basketball, his interest in food marketing started early. Sullivan always saw vast possibilities in the field, possibly due, in part, to his mother always joking "everybody always has to eat!"
Like most college grads, Sullivan plans to get a job after graduating this year, preferably in a sales position. But what he would truly love would be to stay involved with sports in some aspect. "Basketball's been part of my life in such a special manner that I don't want to give it up. I want to mentor the younger players, teaching them not only the values of the basketball game but also the different life lessons that I've learned over the years from my previous coaches and Coach Martelli."
Sullivan often returns to his Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood to go to basketball games at his grade school and high school to give back to the people he feels gave him so much growing up. He likes to show his support for his old coaches and the young players they now teach.
Watching basketball games isn't the only way that Sullivan has found to give. He is also an active volunteer, a member of Hawks Against Hunger with the Food Marketing Association, where he works at food banks and helps prepare food drives. Sullivan is also involved with the Walk Against Hunger, an event sponsored by the Food Marketing Association along with the Philadelphia Food Bank, for which he helps raise money and takes part in a walk around West River Drive.
One might think all this dedication and giving would start to wear on a college student, especially when combined with practicing, traveling, schoolwork, and a social life. But when asked if he ever gets tired of any of it, Sullivan smiles and says that time management is a huge part of his success. "At any time where I get physically or mentally tired, I just think that this has been the greatest experience of my life and I don't want to take anything for granted," Sullivan says. "I want to take everything in, share everything with my friends and family because I know that by this time next year, I'm not going to have this experience to embrace. I don't want to look back and think, 'I wish I would have done that better.' I want to embrace everything as it comes and just make the most of every opportunity that I'm given."