Name & Occupation: Sean Sullivan, teacher, owner of Heights United Soccer Academy, director of coaching for the Cleveland Heights Recreation League Soccer Program, head coach of the men’s varsity soccer team at Heights High.
How long have you lived in Cleveland Heights? What do you like most about this community? I’ve lived here for 34 years, I love Cleveland Heights because of its diversity, because it’s such a friendly community, and I personally am just very proud of all the accomplishments people have done around here. This is where I want to stay. This is my home. I went to Noble Elementary, Monticello Junior High and Cleveland Heights High School, class of '88.
What community and civic organizations are you currently involved in? I’m a member of the Cleveland Heights recreational advisory board, the technical director for the Eastside Kickers and director of coaching. We also offer a preschool league through Heights United Soccer Academy and now we’re almost to 100 (players), we doubled this year. We also offer an indoor academy now here too.
When and why did you decide to open your own business? When I got out of college, I used to work for Community Services. Back in the day, Community Services was run through the (CH-UH) Board of Education. I presented the idea to have a soccer camp back in 1993, and it became a very big entity back then. I think maybe about seven years ago Community Services folded and they decided to fold the program. … I was coaching track at the time, and I decided to try and start a camp on my own. We had maybe 10 kids that year so it was really small, but from there once the word got out we started to grow. It was a combination of my idea of keeping the camps open in Cleveland Heights and the assistant track coach (Andrea Tate, also a Heights alum) who happened to be doing a business program at Cleveland State. She was a senior in college. And she helped me set it up. She was the one who actually helped me set up the company.
What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I think between being a teacher and a coach and a small business owner where the focus is on children, knowing I’ve affected the lives of so many in a positive way really keeps me going and I draw from that and I continue to push harder. That’s the most rewarding thing for me — when people say thank you for helping me or taking the time, that’s really special. That’s why I do this job. And with the camp I’m giving the kids a safe place to go and keeping them engaged in something positive.
What person—professionally or personally—do you most admire? My parents. I’m adopted an I’m grateful that they adopted me and brought me up in a household that really focused on giving back to others. That’s the way I am because of them. But I would really point out that my mother was a hero to me. She battled a liver transplant, cancer, heart surgeries for 10 years and all through those times all she cared about was others and she always put on a brave face. I admired that and I was so in awe of that. That’s what a true hero is – thinking about others rather than yourself.
What are key ways other people can make a difference locally? I think sharing their passion with others in the community … I think it’s just being a role model and an example and others will feed off that.
What is one thing people may not know about you? In my 30’s I ran and completed five marathons, three Cleveland and two New York marathons. I loved the experience. The first mile running over the Verrazano Bridge with 10,000 other people was life changing for me.