Josh Sullivan once spent an afternoon reading non-stop Dr. Seuss books to children at a Denver Zoo.
He’s helped young cancer patients design helmets for himself and his Colorado Mammoth teammates, where he plays in the National Lacrosse League.
Sullivan couldn’t recall all the outreach he’s done in Denver, but spoke proudly about how he has been able to fit into the community and last week, they returned the love.
The Mammoth announced on May 12 that the Red Deer product was the team’s 2017 Fan Choice Award winner, receiving more than one-third of the nearly 2,000 ballots cast.
“It was a big honour for me. It’s pretty wicked to live in the city where you are playing lacrosse and I’m lucky enough with my job back home, that they have the flexibility to let me do this. With us being down here we do so many events in the community,” he said over the phone from Denver.
“I love going to do all that stuff. I love playing lacrosse, but whenever you can use that to get more involved in the community and familiarize yourself with the fans, it makes lacrosse a lot more special than just a sport.”
Bringing a little Central Alberta hospitality all the way to Colorado was no surprise to Mammoth president and GM Steve Govett.
“Josh is one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met,” he said. “I’m happy that our fans recognize it, and have bestowed this honour upon him.”
Sullivan also spends time in classrooms at various schools in Denver teaching the basic skills of lacrosse, trying to spread his passion for the game as far as he can.
The six-foot-one, 195-pound defenceman is in his second season with Colorado and spends the other half of the year at home as a power engineer at a plant in Joffre.
His work brings him home for most of the summer, he hasn’t quite had the opportunity to give back to the game at home.
“It’s wicked to see that,” Sullivan said of the sport’s growth in Red Deer. “That’s the only downfall about me living down here is, I’m involved with the community here but I help run Destroyer Lacrosse, which is a development camp in Red Deer… A lot of those camps are wrapping up when I get back home.”
He said growing up as a lacrosse player in Red Deer happened mostly by accident, saying he just wanted to hang out with his friends. When he realized he had a chance to make it in the sport, he started taking it more seriously and made the jump to Senior A.
“It was friends that got me into it. I was a hockey player growing up, didn’t start playing lacrosse until I was 12,” he recalled.
“There was a group of us that wanted to try it out. Got playing… and just fell in love with the sport.”
Sullivan, who had three assists in 11 ga
mes for the Mammoth in the regular season was inactive for the first game of the West Division Finals against the Saskatchewan Rush with game two set for Saturday in Saskatchewan.
“Looking back at the first game we were tied up going into the second half of the game, then in that second half we got away from our game plan,” he said.
“There’s systems that everyone needs to buy into to achieve success and we just got away from that.”
If the Mammoth win game two, they will play a ten minute tie-breaker to determine who advances to the c