Sullivan happiest around family, sports

Molly Sullivan talks Eagles with NFL Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Molly Sullivan might have been born in Las Vegas and she might have gone to school at North Carolina, but she’s officially a Philly girl.

Sullivan was the face of the Philadelphia 76ers for six years when she worked as a sideline reporter for NBC Sports Philadelphia, which was previously Comcast SportsNet. And last year she served as a reporter/host for the Philadelphia Eagles. She hosts a pregame and halftime show, as well as serving as a reporter at practice and community events.

She might not be from Philly, but now she is Philly.

“I take sports very seriously because it’s a huge part of what I am,” said Sullivan, who swam at the University of North Carolina. “I take sports very seriously, but I never take myself too seriously. I hope people can see that.”

Swimming was where she earned her scholarship, and she excelled in college, where she was an ACC champion and a four-time NCAA qualifier in the 1,600 freestyle. She also earned a spot in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.

A lifelong basketball fan, Sullivan was around for the Sixers when everyone was trusting the process. She was around for the rebuild. And she was around the team when it finally made the playoffs and actually won a round thanks to stars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Then she was around the Eagles this year when they were coming off their Super Bowl-winning season.

No matter what sport she is around, she excels, especially when she’s talking with Philly sports fans because she’s doing exactly what she loves, dealing with people and talking sports.

Now she’ll be around the best athletes in Northeast Philadelphia.

Sullivan will be the keynote speaker on May 16 during the annual Northeast Times Sports Banquet that honors the best high school athletes and coaches. This year, the event will be held at the FOP.

Scholar-athletes are close to Sullivan’s heart because athletics are such a huge part of her life. It got her to college and it’s been her career. But she was also brought up to respect the importance of high school growing up with a mother who was a principal.

“Athletics have given me a lot, not just a chance to get an education, but it’s a huge part of what I am,” said Sullivan, who lives in Center City. “I look forward to getting to meet these great athletes, and it’s important to say they’re student-athletes because they’re not just great athletes. They are a student first.”

As an athlete and television star, Sullivan became a role model to many in Philadelphia, but now she’s a full-time role model to her daughter, Isabella, who will turn 3 years old in May.

Sullivan might love being on television, she loves being around sports and she enjoys spending time with Eagle fans. But there’s nothing better than being a mom.

“She is amazing,” Sullivan said. “She is fearless. I thought I was fearless, but she is really fearless. She’s a Philly girl, she lives here so she has street cred. But she is so much fun.

“Every day is a new experience with her. Being a mom is a lot of work, but it’s the most important job I’ll ever do.

“We just had a game-changer with my parents, they are retired and they moved out here. It’s really a team effort raising a child. I’m lucky to have so many great people around. They’re there for us.”

Philadelphia was there for her the entire way, too.

When the Sixers were struggling during the 2015-16 campaign, Sullivan was one of the few bright spots during the team’s telecasts each game. It was also the year she and her husband, a South Philly native, were expecting Isabella.

“I always joked that year could be titled 10 wins and nine months,” Sullivan said. “Sixers fans are so great and loyal, and that was such an interesting time. And then after she was born, there were nights I wouldn’t get home from games until 3 (a.m.), but I loved it. And I think I’m a better mom when I’m working.”

Sullivan loves her job with the Eagles because it’s a chance to stay around those fans she loves so much. And she’s always looking forward to her next challenge.

But she’s also looking forward to getting to know the athletes from Northeast Philadelphia.

“I love going out and meeting people,” said Sullivan, who also helps out with various charities in the area. “I always have a desire to help people and talk to people about my journey, and athletics is a huge part of who I am. I love to share my story, while hearing other people’s stories.”