"When I got asked, I actually was in disbelief," said Sullivan, a senior at the Academy of Saint Elizabeth. "For a second, I thought they confused my phone number with someone else’s."
But the invitation was very real. Sullivan, a member of the Plainfield Curling Club, accepted and became teammates with Nicole Arsenault of Brick and Abigail Morrison of Falmouth, Mass., both of whom are accomplished curlers.
"Nicole and Abigail get a lot of respect in the circuit," the 16-year-old Sullivan said. "They play on a high level and it was an honor that they would ask me if I wanted to be on the team."
Although Team Arsenault, comprised of four curlers, fell short of making the nationals, Sullivan’s experience was invaluable because she improved tremendously in all aspects.
Her role on the team was to throw the third and fourth rocks – made of polished granite -and to sweep the first two and last four stones.
Sullivan, a resident of Westfield, indicated that communication and teamwork are major assets in the sport which is played on ice and is similar to shuffleboard.
"I think that if people were to watch myself or my teammates on the ice, they would think we were just goofing off with the constant chatter, giggling, ridiculous hand motions or, on some occasions, even dancing," she said.
"But that is how we calm ourselves down and get back on track in the high-pressure situations. If we didn’t keep aloof on the ice, communication breaks down and that is one of the worst things that can happen."
Sullivan, a field hockey and lacrosse player at St. Elizabeth, has been involved in curling for half of her young life. She loves sports and appreciates how they keep her physically fit. Sullivan, too, enjoys being part of a team, the friendships she has formed and, of course, winning.
What Sullivan and Team Arsenault do on the ice requires much skill, precision and mental toughness. Members of the team must be on the same page in the games which are long, lasting more than two hours.
The most difficult part of curling, Sullivan indicated, is being able to collaborate every element successfully.
"The mechanics of the delivery are so precise that being an inch off the target or giving the rock one tenth of a second of too much speed can completely mess up the shot," Sullivan said. "When sweeping, not only does your technique and force on the broom have to be solid but your ability to read the rock and know what the ice will do is crucial so you can make the right decision."
The mental aspect of curling is most important.
"One error can cost the whole game, even if it is in the first 15 minutes," Sullivan explained. "Everyone has to be 100 percent in it mentally. The team is
only made up of four people and if one person is in a rut, it quickly affects not only their game but everyone else’s games as well."
The curling season concluded last weekend without Sullivan, sidelined by torn ligaments in the arch of her foot attained while playing lacrosse, on the ice.
"I wanted to play but I couldn’t," said Sullivan, who is a huge sports fan and aspires to hold a front office position in the NBA. "It was tough not participating."