Coach Sullivan will be honored on Sat., Nov. 15, when the College’s basketball court will be officially named the Paula Sullivan Court. (Sullivan Left, 1984)
IT ALL STARTED in 1971, when Paula Sullivan got a call from her sister, Mary Ellen (Sullivan) Alchorn ’74, about an opening for a women’s basketball coach at Stonehill. Fresh out of college, Sullivan knew she wanted to coach. The timing couldn’t have been any better for both Sullivan and Stonehill, and the rest, as they say, is history or, in Sullivan’s case, groundbreaking history.
The proof is in the pudding: 25 consecutive winning seasons, a 479-159 overall record, six Northeast-10 Conference championships and 10 NCAA Division II Tournament berths. To say Sullivan built the women’s basketball program from the ground up is an understatement.
“When I started coaching, the NCAA hadn’t absorbed women’s athletics, and we played anyone because there were no divisions,’’ recalled Sullivan. Title IX changed all that in the 1980s, and as women’s basketball became more and more competitive, Sullivan guided Stonehill to new and greater heights. Her most successful years came at the end of her coaching career, when her teams earned spots in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.
After spending 25 years at the helm of the women’s basketball program, Sullivan took on a new challenge in 1996, when she was named director of athletics. Her success continued as the College captured its first Northeast-10 Conference Presidents’ Cup for overall athletic excellence under her watch. Her strong leadership led to her being promoted to assistant vice president for intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports in 2008.
“There are no words that can truly capture Paula’s impact on Stonehill and our athletics program,” says Stonehill President John Denning, C.S.C. “Throughout her 43 years of service, she has distinguished herself as a true leader and mentor, both at Stonehill and in the Northeast-10 Conference, always demonstrating great care for our student-athletes. Her passion, dedication and wise counsel will be sorely missed. Stonehill is so much better because of Paula’s untiring dedication.”
For Sullivan, saying goodbye to a place she has called home is bittersweet. “It is a unique opportunity to spend an entire professional career in one place, but Stonehill is unique in that it stands behind its philosophy of community and family and has truly become my second family after so many wonderful years. The College will always be home to me, and I will forever cherish the many, many relationships I have formed in my time here.”