OHIO CITY, Oh - A familiar face is back with the Saint Ignatius Wrestling program as Sean Gill '08 is named the next Head Wrestling Coach. As a student, Gill was a member of the Mat Cats, competing for legendary Head Wrestling Coach Mark Sullivan. Gill would compete at the collegiate level at John Carroll University, where he would be a three-year Ohio Athletic Conference Place winner. Gill was an assistant coach for the wrestling program and will now lead the Mat Cats as the newly named head coach.
"The emotion is amazing; it feels incredible to come back to a program that meant so much to me," says Gill. "Wrestling for coach Sullivan was awesome and to have the chance to build on his past success is something I'm excited about."
"Sean is extremely excited about being the next head wrestling coach at Saint Ignatius," says Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "He is passionate and brings tons of experience during his time at John Carroll that will help our student-athletes."
Coach Sullivan announced his retirement at the beginning of the 2021-22 season after leading the wrestling program for 20 seasons. During that time, Gill learned from coach Sullivan as a student-athlete and an assistant coach. After his tenure and receiving his MBA at John Carroll, Gill returned to Saint Ignatius from 2015 to 2019 as an assistant coach. "The Saint Ignatius wrestling community is getting a great young man, who will be a great mentor for the guys going through high school," says coach Sullivan. "He ran the John Carroll wrestling program when the coach had health issues, so he has a college coaching background and his work ethic is high; he is exactly who we wanted for the program."
"Coach Sullivan is a fierce competitor; he is legendary for how tough he is and what I found out from wrestling for him and coaching with him is how much he cares for the students," Gill says. "It is important to be there for your guys through wins and losses; when I was dealing with injuries my senior year, coach Sullivan was there for me."
Gill was a tremendous wrestler at Saint Ignatius but dealt with shoulder injuries in his junior and senior years. Gill qualified for the District Tournament in his junior season despite sustaining a shoulder injury at the Sectional Meet. "As a student-athlete, he was a great young man to coach and an excellent teammate," explains Sullivan. "Despite the injuries, he never gave up wrestling and continued to work hard. I think the losses in high school molded him into who he is now; he will show kids how to work through tough situations."
"His college career was better than his career in high school because of injuries," says Fitzpatrick. "He understands what it's like to grind through a season and work through adversity and I think the way he'll be able to relate to kids will make him a great head coach."
The wrestling program has grown exponentially since, led by coach Sullivan and Gill looks to continue to build the program. "Work ethic is a must in wrestling; at John Carroll, we talked about living the sport. It's a phrase you see the wrestlers use," says Gill. "Doing things the right way and doing the extra work will get you far; not everyone will wrestle the same, but you want to take what someone does and make it their own."
Gill credits wrestling for his growth as a husband and father and hopes to instill into the student-athletes that it's more than wins and losses at Saint Ignatius. "I want these guys to know if you give it your best, whether you're a state placer or a first-year wrestler, if you put the time in and live the sport, there's so much that wrestling gives back," Gill explains. "To me, wrestling has given me experience, growth and toughness. I am a father and husband now and I thank wrestling for helping me mature."
As Gill takes over as the new wrestling coach, there is excitement to see where he can take the program with his experiences. "I think good coaches steal traits from every coach they have competed for and assemble the best attributes," says Fitzpatrick. "His time with coach Sullivan and the intensity he learned is what he will bring to the wrestling program that will make our guys better."
Having this new role brings some challenges, but coach Sullivan is confident with the work ethic and care Gill brings that will lead him to success. "The biggest challenge he'll face is dealing with injuries and emotions behind that," Sullivan says. "He has the experience to help kids through tough times and will communicate with the student-athletes."
Gill will have a whole offseason over the summer to get to know his wrestlers before the winter season and the Mat Cats look to build off what coach Sullivan has left. "These kids will get so much more than wins and losses," explains Gill. "I know we will compete at a very high level."