Iowa Central's Gabby Sullivan earned plenty of honors while competing for the Triton volleyball program.
She added another to her resume as a member of the coaching staff by being named the American Volleyball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year for two-year programs.
Sullivan, a former All-American, helped the Tritons reach the semifinals at the NJCAA Div. II Championships this past spring following a third consecutive ICCAC title. Iowa Central placed third overall, the highest finish in program history.
"When I read the email that the AVCA was looking for nominations for Assistant Coach of the Year, I immediately knew Gabby would be a great candidate," said Sara Horn, Iowa Central head coach. "This past year was difficult for everyone who works at colleges and universities, but the amount of diverse and challenging jobs that were put on Gabby's plate, and no less in her first year of being a college coach, left me super impressed multiple times with Gabby's work and just how much she was willing to do for our players.
"One of Gabby's biggest strengths is just how selfless she is and her willingness to do whatever it takes to help our players succeed, not only on the court and in the classroom but in their personal lives as well. Gabby was a fantastic player and captain for us a few years ago, so it's no surprise she's been able to step into this role seamlessly. We're pretty lucky to have her here!"
That connection was definitely made with recent Iowa Central graduate Karli Eckert.
"Gabby is an on and off the court coach," Eckert said. "She is always there for you. No matter the time, place nor reason. Having Gabby my last year at Iowa Central was such a blessing, it honestly made it harder to leave. I've had many different coaches throughout my years of volleyball, but Gabby really made the difference. From it being her first year as an assistant and the weight of everything we had to handle with COVID, she always took each day one at a time and put our team first.
"Whether it be encouraging us at the right times, showing us the right way to present ourselves on and off the court, or how she encourages us to be better players and better people. She is the coach where you can cry from laughing too hard to having her push you to make yourself a better athlete. Gabby may not realize how much influence she had on us, but her impact carries forward through us.
"To me personally she deserves this award full heartedly; she is a role model to so many and to me personally. She was like my 'College Big Sister' knowing how important being a student and athlete was, but at the same time checking in on you making sure you mentally were okay too. And for not only me, but many of my teammates can agree, for that we are so grateful. If anyone gets the chance to have her as a coach, you will never forget it and beg to get the chance to go back in time to have her coach you again, I know I do."
-By Dana Becker