Boston College assistant coach Greg Sullivan returned home Sunday from the team’s road trip to Notre Dame around midnight, with a quick turnaround in front of him. All year, he had been training for the Boston Marathon, which was now just a few hours away.
Early Monday morning, Sullivan headed out for the starting line of his first-ever marathon. He was running in support of The Frates ALS Research and Support Fund, a foundation started by former BC captain Pete Frates after his ALS diagnosis.
Sullivan finished the marathon in 4 hours, 16 minutes and 46 seconds, and said he was pleased with how he ran. But far more important to Sullivan than his time, was the opportunity to represent Frates and Team FrateTrain.
“Overall, it was a great experience,” Sullivan said. “It was warm, the crowd was great and, overall, I felt like I ran the race I had planned out.
“I was out there supporting Pete Frates and Team FrateTrain, and it was all about that.”
Frates played four years for the Eagles, serving as team captain as a senior in 2007. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 and has since become active in the efforts to find a cure for the disease. Part of his advocacy has included the creation of the ice bucket challenge in 2014.
Frates is BC’s director of baseball operations, enabling him to maintain an active presence around the Eagles.
“Every day, in some way, he’s talking to our team,” coach Mike Gambino said. “Whether he’s texting me a message to get to somebody or texting them or sending something out to the group. Almost every day he talks to one of our players. He’s a huge part of our daily routine.”
[shareprints gallery_id=”167752″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider_desc” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”false” sharing=”true”]Because of how much Frates means to the program, it was natural for Sullivan to want to do something to help his cause. He approached the Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, about running to support Frates. He said it was an easy sell because of Frates’ stature in the city’s sports community.
With his spot in the marathon secured, it was just a matter of training to run 26.2 miles for Sullivan. He had to get a bit creative when the Eagles were on the road this spring. In Arizona, he did a trail run, and at Clemson he ran 15 miles from the team hotel to Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
While the Eagles’ schedule forced Sullivan to take a different training approach than most marathon runners, he said it was the same kind of commitment that the coaching staff asks of its players.
“You have to plan out runs and get out ahead of it,” he said. “I was in bed a little earlier than I’d like and up a little earlier. But it was fun because I got a chance to run in a lot of different places. It broke up the monotony of running because it was a new adventure every time out.”
Sullivan also wasn’t part of a training team, unlike many marathoners. Instead, he had the BC athletic department helping him, as well as the baseball team.
That support extended to race day. Marathon day in Boston is Patriots’ Day, a local holiday, and spectators pack the race course from start to finish as it winds through the city’s neighborhoods. The 21st mile of the race takes runners past Boston College, and when Sullivan reached that point of the race, he had plenty of support waiting.
Gambino said there many members of the athletic department and the baseball team were waiting to cheer on Sullivan.
“All the boys saw him at some point,” Gambino said. “It wasn’t just them. People from the athletic department were all along the route walking and cheering him on. They were supporting Sully and also supporting the cause he was running for.”
On Boston’s course, the 21st mile is also the end of a climb to the top of Newton Hill, also known as Heartbreak Hill. So the emotional lift Sullivan got from seeing his man supporters came at an opportune time.
“It was an emotional mile for me because it was my opportunity to share the race with the Boston College community,” he said. “It was a great part of the run and something I’ll remember forever.”
Sullivan joked that he had to let the lactic acid drain from his legs before considering whether he’d run a marathon again. But he is grateful for the opportunity to run this year, supporting Frates.
“Pete has been so great to our program and has done so much for ALS community,” Sullivan said. “He’s such a great role model for everybody. The guy was 27 years old, living the dream and was handed a diagnosis of ALS at 27. Rather than putting his head down and weeping and feeling sorry for himself, to see the glass as half full is really inspiring. To just be around him and be a part of this, I’m very grateful, and I know everyone in the program is very grateful.”
News and Notes
Atlantic Coast Conference: Boston College defeated Northeastern, 8-2, Wednesday to win the Beanpot championship. With the baseball team’s victory, BC won all three Beanpot competitions this year, as it also won the men’s and women’s hockey versions. The baseball Beanpot is contested by BC, Harvard, Massachusetts and Northeastern. Coach Mike Gambino said it was “awesome” to win the tournament. “The program and the school take a lot of pride in having all three Beanpots at Chestnut Hill right now,” he said. “It’s fun to watch the kids celebrate winning a trophy.” … Top-ranked Miami hosts Virginia this weekend, a team that it has struggled against in recent years. The Hurricanes last won a series against the Cavaliers in 2009, and are 6-15 against them since 2010.
Big 12 Conference: Oklahoma State and Texas Christian rank first and second in the Big 12 in ERA, and are the only two schools in the conference with sub-3.00 marks. The Cowboys rank 12th in the country at 2.80, while the Horned Frogs are 15th with a 2.95 mark. Those two staffs will meet this weekend at Oklahoma State, in what should be a low-scoring series.
Big Ten Conference: Michigan State set a program record with 409 strikeouts last season, but that mark may not last long. The Spartans have struck out 284 batters in 34 games this season, putting it well ahead of last year’s pace, when they had 249 strikeouts through 34 games. Lefthander Cam Vieaux and righthander Dakota Mekkes are tied for the team lead with 55 strikeouts each.
Pac-12 Conference: Utah coach Bill Kinneberg expected his team to be an active offensive team, capable of putting pressure on defenses. But the Utes haven’t been able to execute in those situations this year, leaving them to create offense in other ways. The Utes have hit just 15 home runs as a team, and Cody Scaggari (.308) and DaShawn Keirsey (.306) are the only two regulars hitting above .300. “It’s kind of funny and surprising,” he said. “We score in bunches, maybe in one inning when we get it going a little bit. But we’re not doing a whole lot of the pressure offense we prepared to do all year long.”
Southeastern Conference: Louisiana State will retire on Friday the No. 36 jersey work by former first baseman Eddy Furniss. It will be the third jersey LSU has retired, joining former coach Skip Bertman’s No. 15 and former righthander Ben McDonald’s No. 19. Furniss played for LSU from 1995-1998, helping the Tigers to two national championships. He holds the SEC records for hits (352), home runs (80), RBIs (308), doubles (87) and total bases (689). The jersey retirement coincides with LSU’s celebration for the 1996 national championship team. The Tigers will wear their gold jerseys all weekend to honor the ’96 team. … No. 3 Texas A&M has scored at least 10 runs in seven straight games, including five straight SEC games. Both those marks match school records that have stood since the 1980s. For the season, the Aggies are averaging 8.19 runs per game and rank 11th in the country in scoring.
Other conferences: When North Dakota announced last week it would eliminate its baseball and men’s golf programs at the end of the school year, athletic director Brian Faison told coach Jeff Dodson it would not be possible to save the sports through fundraising. But, at a public forum Wednesday, interim president Ed Schafer walked back that position, according to a report from the Grand Forks Herald. Dodson told the newspaper he is waiting to hear specifics from Faison and Schafer, but is optimistic that the program could raise enough money to endow itself if given the chance. … The NCAA on Wednesday released its Academic Progress Rate results for the 2014-2015 school year, and the overall baseball score increased a point, rising from 969 to 970. Fourteen baseball teams earned perfect scores of 1,000. On the other end of the spectrum, Southern was declared ineligible for the postseason next year due to its poor APR score. It also will be assessed with level three penalties, which will cost it fall ball and other practice time. Southern was the lone baseball team to be penalized this year.