Best Soccer Sensei

Sean Sullivan

It would be just about impossible to calculate the number of kids who have loved soccer — for a season or for life — because of Sean Sullivan. Weekdays until 3, he's a Cleveland Heights teacher (and was the district's Educator of the Year in 2003). But most evenings and weekends for well over a decade, he's been sharing his lifelong passion for the world's most popular game with anyone and everyone who wants to play it. He coaches the Heights High team, of course, but his Heights United Soccer Academy also offers individual instruction, indoor leagues and a surprisingly affordable summer camp (he runs fundraisers to keep the costs down and participation up). His latest soccer-related labor of love: teaching moms. Shortly before his own mother passed last year, she told him that she'd loved the parent-kids games from Sean's youth-league days, but had always wished she'd had the chance to really learn the game. So today, in her memory, he runs a weekly clinic for moms. There's a fee, but Sean pours all of it into teaching more kids. He's an inspirational ESPN segment or documentary waiting to happen. ( — Lewis