By Joe Arruda
Springfield College coaches are required to teach a course, whether it be a PEAC, a coaching class, or anything involving sport. Most members of the faculty bring years of experience into the classroom, sometimes having a hand in writing educational books or other sources for students to utilize.
For 10-time national championship winning men’s volleyball coach Charlie Sullivan, teaching is not the end of his educational sphere. Sullivan works with multiple teams on campus, giving talks before postseason runs and having many student-athletes in his physical education and sports psychology classes.
Sullivan is the co-author of the book, Winning the Game of Belief: Cultivating Grit that Defines America’s Greatest Coaches, with Kevin Sheehan which has been released this past summer. Sheehan is the father of a former Springfield College lacrosse player, Dylan Sheehan, and was “one of the most infamous lacrosse coaches in the country,” according to Sullivan.
Jokingly admitting that he is not the strongest writer, Sullivan turned to a unique alternative.
“I did more voice to text which was good because I drive an hour and a half each day. Kevin would throw me a research topic and a story and then I would kind of give the story over voice to text and he would put them together.”
The idea for the book was sparked by one of Sullivan’s talks before the men’s lacrosse team began their postseason run.
“[Kevin Sheehan] really started researching hope and belief and it became his passion, and his son knew that. So his son said ‘I’m gonna record this talk,’ because I gave a talk on how you believe in the postseason and stuff like that,” Sullivan said. “[Dylan Sheehan] said, ‘I think my dad will like this.’ So he recorded it, showed it to his dad, his dad was kind of excited, or impressed. His dad was coaching a high school team at the time, they won the state championship in the Spring and he came to me in the Fall and we started collaborating.”
Sheehan began shadowing the Pride men’s volleyball team, following Sullivans coaching strategies in practices and games.
“Really what happened for that book to be created is he took his research which was pretty intricate and then put our stories behind it and combined them. So it’s not dry research reading, it’s like a story in the research. And then we compared that to other cultures that have been successful, coaches that have been successful,” Sullivan said.
When author Angela Duckworth researched for her multi-month New York Times bestseller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Kevin Sheehan was a part of her team. Duckworth’s book has drawn substantial attention, including Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
“[Duckworth] defines what grit is really well, but she doesn’t really have a practical approach to growing grit or developing grit in players,” Sullivan noted. “It was [Kevin’s] passion to have a book that had a practical approach towards growing grit and having a culture that grew grit, produced players that were gritty and that play really well to their potential.”
“I think the book is a good start, it could go into even more detail now that I’ve been through the experience of being part of a book. I think for someone that read the book that they would be able to capture the ideas and really live in terms of believing who they think they are. You are only what you believe you are. So having ideas and practical approaches to believing positive things about yourself and reaching your full potential.”
Winning the Game of Belief: Cultivating Grit that Defines America’s Greatest Coaches can be purchased on Amazon:
And more information about the book can be found at: