Sean Sullivan Teaches Kids About Soccer, Life: People of the Year

Sullivan was named Soccer Coach of the Year in Ohio and is a teacher at Noble Elementary School.

Each year Sean Sullivan gathers as many teddy bears and stuffed animals as he can and donates them to the kids at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

Last year he donated around 2,000 to children.

"He's always there to support the kids, whatever age they are," Mayor Ed Kelley said of Sullivan.

While he's a charitable person, Sullivan is best known in the community for his devotion to teaching kids the game of soccer.

By day he teaches fifth grade science at Noble Elementary, but at other times he's coaching. Sullivan is the head coach of the men’s varsity soccer team at Heights High and runs his own business, owner of Heights United Soccer Academy. And he's also the director of coaching for the Cleveland Heights Recreation League Soccer Program.

All of the time he spends teaching kids the game he loves has paid off. In 2012 the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association awarded Sullivan the 2012 Ron Pinsenschaum Award, the highest honor a soccer coach can receive.

Helping kids and the community has always been one of his strong points.

"It comes so easy for him," Kelley said.

Sullivan has lived in the community for 34 years. He went to Noble Elementary, Monticello Junior High and Cleveland Heights High School, graduating in the class of '88.

"This is where I want to stay," he said in a June 29 interview. "This is my home."

At an early age Sullivan learned the value of helping others. An adopted child, Sullivan recalled his mother being a strong influence in his life. While suffering incredible physical hardship for 10 years, she never stopped caring for others.

"That’s what a true hero is – thinking about others rather than yourself," Sullivan said in a previous interview.

His selfless attitude doesn't go unnoticed by those around him.

"He volunteers his time to coach an adult community women's soccer team," Debby Rosenthal, who nominated Sullivan for Cleveland Heights Person of the Year, said. "He dedicates countless overtime hours to supporting and coaching Cleveland Heights children."

Kelley has been impressed by Sullivan as a model citizen. He's never once heard a parent complain about how he treats their kids.

"He's just a real neat guy."


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