Hammond, Ind. – Jan. 11, 2023 – The Northern League’s oldest franchise will have a new skipper at the helm as Sullivan Stickann has been hired to serve as the Southland Vikings manager for the 2023 campaign.
“Sullivan is an energetic and enthusiastic coach who will get the most out of his players and help them hone their skills during the summer season,” Northern League Commissioner Don Popravak said. “He came highly recommended and we’re confident he will help continue the Vikings’ winning tradition while aiding players in their development toward professional careers.”
Stickann serves as an assistant coach at Olive Harvey College. Prior to breaking into the collegiate ranks, he was a member of the baseball staff at Munster High School and led the freshman squad to a successful season.
“It was always a childhood dream of mine to be a college coach,” Stickann said. “I was fortunate to get a job at Olive Harvey, and I never want to leave the college level, I think that’s where I belong. To get the Vikings job is special as I’ve followed the league for years now. It’s a great league and I want to see if we can win a championship. I’m super grateful for the opportunity. I’m living the dream and want to keep doing it.”
Stickann takes over a Vikings franchise that has made the playoffs in six straight seasons and has 10 total playoff appearances including three league titles. The Vikings are a charter franchise as they have been part of the league since its 2010 launch.
“My style as manager is going to be high energy,” Stickann said. “I want guys who will play hard and be involved in the game for nine innings. I want to make the experience as positive as possible for the players and make sure they bring it every day. As I recruit the team, I’m looking for gamers. I want guys who have the ability to play different positions and guys who would run through a brick wall for me. From a pitching standpoint, I’m looking for strike throwers. This is a season with a lot of games, I want guys who will throw strikes and get outs.”
Stickann is a Highland, Ind. native and played for four years at Highland High School under coach John Bogner. As a senior, he had a breakout season on the mound, and earned first team all-conference accolades as a pitcher. He committed to Illinois Valley Community College to pitch and play outfield, and eventually evolved into a better hitter than pitcher. As a sophomore at Illinois Valley, Stickann batted .420 with a .550 on-base percentage. He decided to focus on playing center field and hitting.
After Illinois Valley, Stickann spent one year at Trine – the season impacted by COVID-19. He left for Wright State – Lake Campus in 2021 but was unable to play due to health concerns. From there, he began his coaching journey.
“I want to thank my dad for making me watch so much baseball as a little kid,” Stickann said. “I played in so many games and played for so many different teams, and I’ve watched 10,000 White Sox games in my life. That’s where I learned the game, and that was the biggest influence on how I see the game. I played kind of tight in high school and didn’t believe in myself at times, and my college coach Jason Goode at Illinois Valley was so loose and unlocked something in me. I was never nervous any more and started to believe in myself. I’ve learned a lot from Jameel Rush at Olive Harvey, and also from working with Bobby Morris.”
Stickann joins the Northern League, which has produced over 100 professional players and five who have reached the ultimate dream of playing Major League Baseball since its 2010 launch.
“The league is in a great place and it’s growing rapidly,” Stickann said. “I think the sky is the limit. I love the direction of the league, and I think we’re going to have a fun summer.”