It was 1975, in Fountain Inn, when Emmanuel Sullivan began his legendary coaching career. His son, Dale, was playing guard on the offensive line during a football practice when Sullivan, like any father would, complained to director, Roger “PD” Terry, about switching his kid to running back. Terry explained to him that if he knew so much about the sport, he should come out the next day and help coach the team. The next day Sullivan was there and ready to get down to business. This day marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship full of fishing trips and Clemson football games. 44 years later, Mr. Sullivan will have a Fountain Inn sports complex named after him.
The project consists of the redesign and renovation of the existing sport park (Woodside Park). The project area is approximately 14 acres. The new field will be called the Emmanuel Sullivan Sports Complex.
According to Russ Haltiwanger, Fountain Inn Director of Parks & Recreation, renovations include three new baseball/softball fields, a T-ball field, a new multi-purpose field, batting cages, new playground, new press box and concession stand, with new parking extended to Woodside Avenue and sidewalks.
The T-ball field is also proposed to be a handicap accessible field. We are in the process of getting the field designed to meet the specifications of The Miracle League in order to offer children with mental and physical disabilities to play baseball on a rubberized turf field that accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices.
The park would be slated to open in time for baseball/softball season 2020 .
Sullivan grew up in Fountain Inn and attended Bryson, playing on the first football team, and later, Fountain Inn High School, graduating in 1959. He married his wife, Lilli, and had two sons and a daughter. He worked for Textile Chemicals for 37 years and coached football, baseball, and basketball for Fountain Inn Rec and Hillcrest High School. He is a “family first” man and credits his wife for allowing him to chase his passion of coaching. He reflects on helping young boys and girls turn into successful people and says, “it feels good” to see them grow up to become doctors, lawyers, and preachers. He tells stories of his favorite players and explains how he was “more than a coach” and became a mentor to these young people trying to survive the world. “Balls and bats, it doesn’t make a difference who you are.” This quote inspires him to treat everyone with kindness and continue to teach adolescents what it means to become a good man or woman. He jokes that he always had winning teams and the room filled with hundreds of trophies his players won, would support that statement. He thanks Roger Terry, his “brother from another mother,” for providing him with the opportunity to develop young athletes. He spoke on how their rough first impressions ended up giving him someone that brought love and happiness to him for the rest of his life. As he reflects on his decades of teaching and coaching, Fountain Inn will show their gratitude with the new complex that will be named in his honor. “I am Emmanuel Sullivan and I will never change,” he says with a big smile on his face. Thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for providing joy to people’s lives and teaching them to become better citizens. Sullivan will live in Fountain Inn history forever and will always be remembered as a sports legend in the city.
By Parker Neeley♦