By Alex Clark ’20 PC: Robby Cordova ’19
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Bellarmine’s new Athletic Director, Mike Sullivan ‘83. Mr. Sullivan, who recently retired from the San Jose Police Department after a distinguished career in law enforcement, is excited to embark on a new career as Bellarmine’s Athletic Director.
“When I learned the Bellarmine AD job was available, I could not pass it up. I love Bellarmine and always hoped I would have an opportunity to come back and serve our school in a job other than security,” he said.
As the new Athletic Director, Mr. Sullivan has established many goals for the upcoming school year. However, improving sportsmanship across the board will be his number one priority.
“I think the number one goal for this year is to compete at the highest level and continue to provide our athletes with the best facilities, equipment and coaching staffs possible. Another important goal is to support the CCS with their sportsmanship campaign. Fan, player and coach ejections are on the rise which is very concerning to me and my staff. With that being said, I have been attending every parent meeting and explaining to our parents Bellarmine’s Code of Conduct and the fact that I will hold everyone accountable,” he stated.
In terms of changing the way the athletic department runs its business, Mr. Sullivan plans on keeping everything intact. He wants to build upon what the department has accomplished and improve lines of communication.
“At my first CCS Athletic Director’s Meeting in August I was told to just survive and not make any changes in your first year. It is not in my nature to sit and do nothing, but I understood the advice. I decided I would focus on making improvements — not wholesale changes. In my first 100 days, I have directed my efforts towards improving communications amongst my coaching staffs. I want open lines of communication from my office to every level of every sport. I want the Varsity, JV and Freshman teams to know what we are doing at all times and I’ve asked my Head of Programs to assist me with this.
Mr. Sullivan plans on applying the skills and lessons he acquired as an officer to the athletic department’s way of operating.
“Fortunately morale is not suffering in our Athletics Department, but I learned from SJPD that if everyone feels they have a voice, feel they are treated with dignity and respect, trust my motives, and trust I’ll always be transparent in my decision making, they will be even happier and perform at the highest level,” he added on.
Running the athletic department is not a one-man job, and Mr. Sullivan is glad that he has an incredible supporting cast. He believes that the opportunity to work with the athletics staff has been a blessing.
“Well, so far, what I like most is my staff. I have a fantastic staff, from my administrative assistant, Assistant AD’s, and trainers to our sports strength and conditioning coaches and all of our athletic coaches. Everyone works so hard for our boys and we are blessed here at Bellarmine to have the staff and coaches that we have. I also love walking the sports fields and pool area every day after school to check in on all the practices going on. Watching our athletes work hard, compete and enjoy their sport is what it is all about for me,” he remarked.
This school year will be filled with many challenges and tasks. Whether or not the ship sails smoothly, Mr. Sullivan looks forward to overcoming any obstacles.
“Solving problems — I love putting out fires; I like getting things done. Now that I’m fulltime at Bellarmine, I am reminded that the Jesuits, amongst other things, are known for their work ethic, and that’s what I’m drawn too. You give me a mission — big or small — and I am going work hard to take care of it,” he stated.
Mr. Sullivan spoke on his past experiences as a Bell. He believes that these experiences as a high school student have influenced his decision to become an athletic director.
“I played basketball for two years and then I tried out for the varsity team. I was the last kid cut, and that experience will serve me well because I know I can help an athlete or his parents deal with the aftermath of not making a sports team here at Bellarmine. Baseball is still my favorite sport to this day, but I loved basketball and what it took to compete in that sport. I was athletic and could jump (just don’t ask Mr. Pinkston about the jumping part), but I didn’t handle the ball or shoot as well especially for someone 6’1’’. I simply wasn’t good enough, but it was a great life lesson to learn and when that door closed baseball’s door opened,” he said.
Even though his dream of playing for the basketball team did not go as planned, Mr. Sullivan said that baseball has made a positive impact on his life.
“I played baseball all four years and that was an incredible experience. I played against Barry Bonds and Gregg Jefferies, both from Serra High School, and both had long MLB careers. I played 33 straight games my senior year in right field and loved every minute of it, but my greatest accomplishment was being named the Billy Schmidt Award winner in 1983,” he noted.
In the end, Mr. Sullivan said that he is excited to work in his first year as an athletic director.
“I absolutely love sports! If I could, I would be here at every event, and although that isn’t realistic, I’ll try my best. That’s how much I like sports and that is the passion I have for all of our teams here at Bellarmine.”