NJ high school football: Mendham lineman overcomes challenges

CHATHAM TOWNSHIP — Shane Sullivan stalked the Mendham sideline on Monday afternoon, red T-shirt sleeves poking out from under his dark blue jersey. Helmet barely keeping his unruly curls in place, Sullivan was usually a few steps away from his teammates.

They all knew he was there. All they needed to do was listen.

As Mendham’s junior-varsity game against Chatham progressed, Sullivan kept up a steady stream of chatter.

“Come on!” 

“Third down, defense! Make a stop!”

“Come on offense! We got this!”

Mendham lineman Shane Sullivan on the sideline during a junior varsity game against Chatham on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

Big plays led to bigger cheers, as Sullivan dashed over to pound teammates on the back as they came off the field. 

But Sullivan, a junior defensive lineman, rarely gets to turn his enthusiasm into action.

He is legally blind in his right eye, and vision in the left is impaired. Sullivan wears black-framed glasses with thick lenses that don’t correct his vision enough to allow him to drive — but he insists he can clearly see the opponents he’s trying to block. He also has asthma, ADHD, and learning difficulties.

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