Renegade Spotlight: Rachael Sullivan (New England Football Journal)

May 6, 2022
Rachael Sullivan, Defensive End, Boston Renegades
Rachael Sullivan of the Boston Renegades. © Mitzi Velez Lorenzana

As the Renegades celebrated with family and friends on the field following a 49-point home-opening win last Saturday night, Rachael Sullivan hugged her two little sisters near the Boston bench and took the moment in.

It would be the last victory she experiences for a while.

In her first year with Boston, Sullivan was part of the 3-0 start, extending the team’s win streak to 20 dating back to the 2019 season opener. Her season is already ending though, as she heads out this weekend to continue serving as an active member of the United States Army. Sullivan will soon head to the Middle East as a member of the infantry.

With her sisters continuing to run around, periodically stopping to wrap their arms around her for a big hug before taking off for the sidelines again, Sullivan talked about making sure she is serving as a role model not just to them, but girls and women who want to play football and be soldiers as well. Sullivan played for Attleborough High School growing up and has relentlessly pursued her life-long dreams.

“I didn’t play much,” she said with a laugh. “But, I did play defensive end. This was always my childhood dream since I was in second grade playing football at recess with all the guys. I wanted to play high school, went out, played and followed (the Renegades) throughout my whole high school career. I talked to coaches, and then I got out here and this is like…everything. This was always something I wanted to do. So many kids when they’re growing up are told “you can’t do this,” and we’re doing this.”

Heading into the home opener against Detroit, Sullivan was still feeling the aftermath of a win on the road against Tampa, but she wasn’t going to miss this final night for anything.

“I came into this game kind of hurting a little bit from Tampa,” Sullivan admitted. “I’m blessed to have been able to play three games. I’ll be back hopefully this time next year, if not later maybe a little earlier. I’d love to be able to come back here.”

Growing up, Sullivan always wanted to do two things, play football professionally in the NFL and serve her country. While one thing might take a bit of time still, Sullivan has already become someone her sisters can be proud of. She’ll also have an “army” of new teammates welcoming her with open arms and her No. 74 jersey when she returns.

“I said growing up, I wanted to be a soldier and I wanted to be the first woman to play for the New England Patriots,” Sullivan added. “I’m already a soldier and I don’t think I’d rather be with the Patriots than anybody here. This is my family now. I want my sisters to believe they can do absolutely anything they want. There’s so many things that we’re told we can’t do.

“We keep breaking barriers.”