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An Athlete Who Inspires

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Imagine being a rookie pitcher, facing off against your opponent's best hitters. Now imagine only being able to fully use one hand for both pitching and catching. But freshman Bryan Sullivan persevered, pitching 10 innings in his first season with the Scarlet Raiders, and is looking forward to spring ball.

Bryan, a Paramus native, was born with cerebral palsy and suffers with right hemiparesis, a weakness that affects the right side of his body. Bryan was a top pitcher for the Paramus High School Spartans. As Paramus' opening day starter on April 1, 2009 against Kennedy HS, he threw a one-hitter for the victory, his first of five wins in six varsity starts. Bryan also threw a no-hitter against Eastside HS on May 20, 2009, then defeated Ridgewood HS in the season finale to clinch the Spartans' NNJIL Division A title. His accomplishments earned him the 2009 Charlie McGill Scholarship Award from The Record newspaper; the prestigious EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award, presented on the field of Yankee Stadium during a pre-game ceremony; and the Bob LeWinter Award from the Bergen County Umpires Association. Bryan's record also caught the attention of Rutgers-Newark baseball coach Mark Rizzi.

After watching Bryan play, Rizzi offered him a spot as a Scarlet Raider. Bryan accepted, eager both to play college ball and to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Mark Pepitone, a loyal R-N alumnus.

For Bryan, the transition in the classroom and on the baseball field was huge. Through his focus, perseverance and self-discipline, he has been able to be successful at both.

Bryan started playing baseball at age 6, when his dad, Steve, began teaching him to catch and throw a large, soft plastic ball. His mother, Donna, emphasized the value of self-discipline and concentration for both school and sports, and Bryan eventually worked up to catching and pitching tennis balls, then baseballs. Today, Bryan is a role model for young athletes, in the classroom, on the field and, most importantly, in life.