PIL Hall of Fame News Scholarship Program Honors Coach, Mentor and Friend

Scholarship Program Honors Coach, Mentor and FriendScholarship Program Honors Coach, Mentor and Friend

Denny "Sully" Sullivan, Coach, Grant 1950s-1962

Denny “Sully” Sullivan, Coach, Grant 1950s-1962

To say Denny Sullivan (Coach, 1950s-60s) had a positive influence on Butch Lumby’s (Grant, 1962) life would be an understatement akin to crediting Lumby for being “not a bad sprinter” back in his track-and-field days at Grant High School.

For clarity’s sake, let it be known that Lumby was running sub-10-second 100-yard sprints back in the early 60s. As Lumby’s coach, Sullivan was, of course, a key figure in developing his young sprinter into a high-achieving athlete that would set a PIL record in the 100 that stood for 30-plus years, go on to compete at Oregon State and, in 2011, earn himself a place in the PIL Hall of Fame.

But to Lumby and scores of other Grant athletes, Sully, as he was commonly known, was far more than a great coach whose track teams won seven PIL championships and the 1961 state title and whose cross-country teams also claimed two state championships. Without Sully in his life as a coach, mentor and, later, lifetime friend, Lumby says simply, “I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Where Lumby is today is Los Gatos, Calif., retired from successful careers in teaching, construction and consulting. One day a few years ago, he and his wife of 56 years, Timmy, were talking about Sully (a 2019 inductee into the PIL Hall of Fame), the influence he’d had on so many youngsters’ lives and wondering if there was a way to properly honor and “pay back” the coach and friend, who died in 2019 at age 93.

“We both came up with the same idea to try to set up a scholarship program for young track and field student athletes who could use some financial help to further their education,” Lumby says.

Lumby reached out to the leadership of the PIL Hall of Fame, which help turn that idea into reality last year when the first two $5,000 scholarships were awarded to Nolan Malcomson and Kylee Nelson, graduates of Ida B. Wells and Lincoln high schools, respectively. The two 2022 winners were chosen from 17 finalists nominated by their school’s athletic directors.

“Each candidate was interviewed by an independent committee we formed and rated on their academic performance, involvement in school and extracurricular activities and financial need,” Lumby says. “All the kids we interviewed last year and this year are such incredible young people. Choosing the winners has been very difficult.”

Incredible is an apt description for student athletes benefiting from a scholarship honoring a man Lumby also describes as “an incredible human being. Sully set standards for what you were going to do. He was very calm with a great sense of humor. The hard work you did you didn’t realize you were doing because of his support and encouragement.”

We are pleased to introduce the 2022 Denny Sullivan Award Winners below. 2023 winners will be presented at the October Hall of Fame Induction Banquet. Learn more about the Denny Sullivan Award.

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