Red Deer lacrosse product Josh Sullivan (left) chases down a Vancouver Stealth player during National Lacrosse League play. (Photo by: Jack Dempsey / Colorado Mammoth)

Red Deer lacrosse product Josh Sullivan (left) chases down a Vancouver Stealth player during National Lacrosse League play. (Photo by: Jack Dempsey / Colorado Mammoth)

Jack of all trades: Red Deer’s Josh Sullivan wins NLL Championship

All while being a dad and working as an engineer

When Red Deer’s Josh Sullivan isn’t playing in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) he’s got plenty on his plate working as a power engineer and as a new dad watching his son grow up.

But when he first started playing lacrosse in his hometown of Red Deer, making it to the NLL seemed like a distant possibility.

Last week, the seven-year veteran won his first NLL championship with the Colorado Mammoth.

The Mammoth claimed their first title since 2006 after winning Game 3 against the Buffalo Bandits 10-8.

“Pretty unbelievable still, you know it’s almost a week later and I’m still going back through my phone and just looking at photos and it still doesn’t feel like it totally set in but I just can’t really do much to wipe the smile off my face right now,” Sullivan told the Advocate.

After winning the championship last Saturday the team had a post-game party before flying home. Despite just becoming a national champion, Sullivan was back at work two days later on Monday.

Unlike most athletes in major sports leagues, Sullivan doesn’t live in Colorado during the season he and his family live and work in the Red Deer area and fly out on weekends to games.

His wife and one-and-a-half-year-old son were there to celebrate the special occasion when they won it all, which he said was special.

In the first round, the Mammoth defeated the defending NLL Champion Calgary Roughnecks before defeating the San Diego in the Western Conference Finals.

For many years he said the Mammoth struggled to make it past the first round of the playoffs, so now that they did make it to the finals and won Sullivan said it’s not an easy task.

“It’s very hard. Like you said it is a grind to get there –we have some veteran guys on our team that have been through it before… It’s nice to have that veteran presence in the room and they kind of guide you through don’t let you get too high and let you get too low throughout the series,” he said.

He couldn’t be more proud of his team coming together during their playoff run who he said were the underdogs coming into the playoffs. After some injuries to key players throughout the run, they were still able to get the job done.

“When you looked at our team and compared them to Buffalo… they had the best offence in the league. And everybody just did their part didn’t do too much or too little everybody chipped in and we just grinded through the entire final round,” he said.

Sullivan also plays in a summer league in Senior B for the St. Albert Minors where he’s won two national championships. But at one time played in the minor lacrosse system in Red Deer. Now as a professional player looking back at those days he said it makes him want to give back to the community.

Growing up he said he never had any lacrosse experienced coaches it was mainly people willing to offer their time to help coach. Alberta has been at a disadvantage in the lacrosse world because he said most of his team in Colorado is made up of players from B.C. and Ontario because in the summer time they have Senior A leagues which he compared to the WHL of lacrosse and Alberta only has Senior B.

“It makes me want to give back and coach in our community so that the players at a younger age can start developing more of a lacrosse mentality on the floor versus a hockey mentality,” he said adding it would be cool to one day coach his son.

Growing up he never thought he’d play in the NLL but admitted it was always something you’d say but didn’t think was possible. In 2015 he moved out to B.C. but played in a Senior A league to improve his game. While playing there he caught the eye of Colorado Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle who also coached a team in B.C., to see if he’d be willing to try out for the Mammoths.

“That was kind of my first indicator that I might actually have a shot at doing this,” Sullivan said.

He didn’t expect to make it as the year before that he got cut on the first day of training camp with the Calgary Roughnecks of the NLL which usually runs for four weeks. His story was different in Colorado as he made the team and seven years later is an NLL Champion.

Sullivan works as a power engineer in Red Deer where he works in an ethylene production unit, which is basically the gas phase of plastic production. On a day-to-day basis, he’s either out in the field doing his rounds checking out the equipment or is working on the control panel inside making sure the process stays steady.

Much like on the lacrosse field he said it is a team environment there’s a six-man crew who has to work together and make sure everyone is on the same page. He is thankful for his team members where he works who cover shifts to allow him to play lacrosse on weekends.

“I didn’t have much of an interest sitting in an office all day I’m kind of more of a hands-on guy. Power engineering is a nice mix of you get to work with all that instrumentation, you get to work with the millwrights who end up rebuilding the equipment and stuff like that. You kind of get to dip your fingers in all those different areas and in power engineering where you get to work is very broad as well.”

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