Kelli Sullivan is the kind of person that makes you think leaders are born. Always first to take on a challenge or offer an encouraging word, Kelli contributed boundless energy every time she stepped on the field. Today, Kelli is a Data Scientist for an athlete performance data start-up in Los Angeles, as committed to creating positive team culture off the field as she ever was on it.
Kelli joined Eastside when she was nine, first playing for Nancy Turner’s ‘97 Red Development team. She was an immediate natural midfielder, covering tons of ground, a tireless worker, an engine that made the team go. Over the years she played for many EFC teams and coaches including Chance Fry and Emily Cole, always finding her way into the captain armband. She was part of Chance’s ’96 Red team that won back-to-back Far West RCL Division crowns in 2012 and 2013, State Cup in 2012, and was a Region IV quarterfinalist.
A four-year varsity standout at Skyline High School, Kelli also competed in basketball and track. During her tenure, the Spartans won three consecutive 4A WA State Championships and Kelli was named team MVP as a Senior Captain. Additionally, she earned first team All-State honors and tied the school record for most points in a season.
Among all this success, Kelli now reminisces most about the friendships she built at Eastside. Her memories of tournaments consist of secret handshakes and making T-shirts with her teammates, while medals and win-loss records have faded. Kelli was strongly impacted by the big and little sister mentor relationships made between older and younger Eastside teams; a long-standing tradition now carried forward by our Youth Leadership Program.
Kelli played Division I soccer for Colorado College, playing in all 78 games and starting all but one over the course of her career. She also served as team Captain for three years. Concurrently, she earned a BA in Mathematics and Computer Science, becoming one of only two players who received the Mountain West Scholar-Athlete Award all four years. With her college team, she represented the USA in the 2015 World University Games in South Korea, a once in a lifetime experience.
Kelli cites her time at Eastside as preparing her well for the rigors of college life. She had the unique youth experience of moving up an age group, transitioning from a top player on her age-group Red team to a year-up White team (pre-ECNL-era). Her goal was to make the year-up Red team, which she achieved in time. As Kelli says: “I took this lesson with me into collegiate sports where you immediately start at the bottom and must work extremely hard to get playing time and become a starter. I have carried the same perseverance with me into the workforce as I work hard daily to make an impact within my team at the company.”
When asked what advice she would give to current Eastside players, Kelli shared that, “Someday you won’t be able to drive over to a rainy soccer practice and see all your teammates, no more weekend tournaments or team meals. Enjoy time spent playing alongside your friends as much as you can. One day there won’t be any more games to play!” Wise words to enjoy the moment and appreciate the lessons along the way. Kelli exudes Eastside’s Champions in Life value in everything she does, and we are grateful she is part of our Eastside family!