Virginia Tech is home to some of the brightest students in the nation who continually “Invent the Future” despite that tagline being retired. The Hokies’ baseball program holds one of those students in senior pitcher Joey Sullivan.
This past summer, Sullivan was offered an internship with Booz Allen Hamilton, a technology consulting firm based in McLean, Virginia, Sullivan’s hometown. As a result, Sullivan stayed home over the summer and took the metro to his job, working eight hours every day.
It was still a tough decision for Sullivan to make, ultimately deciding to take this job instead of playing in the Cape Cod League over the summer. Sullivan recognized that he needed the rest after appearing in a team-high 30 games and tossing 48.2 innings during the 2017 season.
“My body definitely needed a rest,” Sullivan said. “My arm and my legs in general. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up to begin with. They’re a pretty prestigious firm. It was an offer that I felt like I really couldn’t pass up.”
A Marketing and Professional Sales major, Sullivan was mainly involved in the marketing side of the company, such as developing a plan of action and finding clients. One of his major roles was working with a team of five other interns to begin creating an application that helps disabled people navigate through buildings. Booz Allen Hamilton is still working on the app, so it hasn’t been released into app stores yet.
“We essentially developed a web app,” Sullivan said. “Yes, it was created for people with disabilities, but it could be used for all people. You can go into a building, and if you’ve never been in this building like we’re in right now, you can say you want to come to this room. You put it [the room number] in [the app] and it will give you the best route so you can highlight your selected features on this app. If you are a wheelchair user or anything along those lines, you can highlight ‘I want an elevator, I want accessible entrances and exits, I want to know where bathrooms are.’ Stuff like that.
“Truthfully, it can be used for anybody. Oftentimes there are buildings on campus that I’ve never been in before and I really just get lost going into them. If I were to know where I’m going, I would just plug it in and get a route. Another girl and I developed a business plan and the marketing aspect of it. How we would grow and the potential that it would have. Who some potential clients could be for our company and things like that.”
While Sullivan gained valuable experience in the real world, he still had to multitask and keep up with his training and conditioning just like he would any other summer. Sullivan didn’t participate in any game action like many did through summer leagues, but he maintains that he is still in the best shape of his life because of his workout regimen throughout the summer.
“During the season we don’t really lift as much or as heavy,” Sullivan said. “I was able to get in the weight room five times a week and run five times a week. That was really beneficial for me. I think I put on some good weight and some good muscle. I took a couple months off from throwing just because I had been throwing for so long. I started up again in early August. When I started throwing again, that was tough to juggle everything with working out and going to work for eight hours a day and trying to throw again after. Being a student athlete, you always have to juggle those things so I was relatively use to it.”
Now the 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound hurler heads into his senior campaign with a lot of change surrounding the program. Sullivan has a new head coach in John Szefc, a new pitching coach in Ryan Fecteau, and he’ll toe the rubber in a completely renovated ballpark at English Field at Union Park. Through it all, Sullivan sees these changes as a step in the right direction to end his Virginia Tech career on a high note.
“It’s been awesome this far,” Sullivan said. “I think the new staff is pretty incredible. I think they work well together. They’re all kind of different in unique ways. Coach Szefc is awesome. He brings a new flavor that we’ve never really had before. He’s very even keeled. He’s the type of guy that when he speaks you just shut up and listen. Not because he’s our head coach, but simply because we enjoy listening to him. You want to listen to him and see what he has to say. As for our new park and stuff, it’s coming along. It looks pretty cool. I think we’re all eager to see it. We’re out there practicing every day and so are those workers. We appreciate and acknowledge everything that’s being done for us. Now it’s our job to be able to return the favor for them and everyone else who’s made an impact on what we have.”
In the 2018 season, Virginia Tech’s roster will mostly be filled with seniors and freshmen. On the current roster of 33 players, seven are seniors and 13 are freshmen. Having seven seniors on a roster in college baseball is a pretty rare sight, and the Hokies intend to use that to their advantage on and off the field.
“If you look at our roster we do have a lot of seniors,” Sullivan said. “That was one of the first things Coach Szefc looked and said to me. He said looking at the roster we have a lot of guys with a lot of experience. That will help us mentally come the season. I think the culture here is also a little different than years past. I think a lot of the older and younger guys interact really well together. People have kind of taken other guys under their wings and I think the young guys have a lot of talent. Truthfully, I’m jealous of them. They’re coming in at a really good time right now. They’ve got a lot to look forward to with the new staff, the new facilities and what not. I’m a little biased, but I think they’ve got some older guys who have seen a lot. Just be able to listen and watch what they do.”
Sometime in the late spring, Sullivan will step off the mound for the last time donning a Hokies uniform. During that time span, he wants to look back and be proud of everything that the team accomplished in his final season.
“I just want it to be the best year I’ve ever had on and off the field,” Sullivan said. “One thing I’ve really realized is it’s not about me, but it’s about the team. If I pitch well and we still lose, it doesn’t really matter. I want to make regionals, I want to have the best record that these seniors have had. The best record we’ve had was my freshman year when we were .500. That’s really all I can ask for, just to have the best season I’ve had in a Tech uniform and just enjoy it. It could be the last ride, and I’m just going to enjoy being out there with my friends listening to Coach Szefc and all those guys.”