Following the retirement of eight-season head coach Barry Greener, the Walpole football program was in need of a new head coach. After taking in over 40 applicants, Walpole athletic director Ron Dowd announced the hiring of current assistant coach Chris Sullivan on Feb. 20.
“He has a lot of pride. He’s been a player and coach for Walpole and he has a real commitment to the program,” Dowd said. “Continuity and familiarity with the program, that was important, but ultimately it was to get the right fit. Getting the right all-around person for the job was the No. 1 concern.”
Following their playoff loss to North Attleborough, the Rebels wasted no time in preparing for next year as the team has started conditioning less than a month after the season ended.
“I want [the players] to be accountable, I want them to be committed and I want them trust each other in everything that we do 100 percent,” Sullivan said. “Last year was not where we want to be, so we were all upset at the way it turned out. We are going to work as hard as we can to improve upon last year, to get better and get back into a positive winning tradition.”
Sullivan—who graduated from Walpole High School in 2000—is a lifelong Rebel, as he won a Super Bowl in 1997, while he was playing guard for the Rebels. Following his tenure at Walpole, Sullivan continued his football career at Worcester State, where he switched from guard to center. After graduating from Worcester State, Sullivan spent a year coaching at Worcester South High School. Then he returned to Walpole High School in 2006 as an assistant coach, and played a part in Walpole’s 2008 Super Bowl victory.
“Everybody was very excited when he was selected as head coach since most players know him and what he’s capable of,” rising senior captain Chase Conrad said. “With Coach Sullivan, all the other great coaches coming back and our dedicated and hard-working players, there is no doubt we could make a serious run next year.”
Sullivan has wasted no time in preparing the Rebels for next season as football players report to the weight room throughout the week to lift in preparation for next year.
“It’s a rich tradition of winning, and I hope to teach that tradition going forward with the kids, teaching them how Walpole football has been successful out-working and out-studying the opponent,” Sullivan said. “We are not always the biggest or the fastest. It’s more about outworking everyone else.”
Sullivan has spent the last 12 years as an assistant coach for the Rebels and now looks to restore the type of success the Rebels are accustomed to.
Sullivan and the Rebels have yet to be proven and will be put to the test next year as they face Norwood High School for their first game of the 2018 season. Walpole football finished their 2017 season with a record of 4-7, their first losing season in 15 years.