After 18 years, Monitor sportswriter is moving on

  • Tim O’Sullivan on the job covering a local high school game. Courtesy

  • Tim O'Sullivan Elizabeth Frantz

  • ‘Monitor’ sports editor Tim O’Sullivan

Monitor staff
Published: 6/14/2021 5:39:10 PM

When you’re a sports reporter, people want to hear your stories about the greats. In 18 years with the Monitor, Tim O’Sullivan has compiled more than a few.

“Oh yeah, I saw the Celtics beat Lakers for their last championship, got to see Tom Brady beat Peyton Manning,” said O’Sullivan. But those aren’t the stories he remembers.

Asked to look back on his career with the newspaper, O’Sullivan talked about Jillian Libby in 2005, who brought differently-abled skills to the Merrimack Valley field hockey team.

“That’s the height of what sports can do for a person, for a team. She taught them so much, they gave her so much,” he said.

Or there was the time he spent 10 days with John Stark boys basketball team in a playoff run for a special series, or the stories about Brooke Hall who helped create the unified soccer team at Bow Middle School, bringing the pleasure of the game to everybody.

“I love that part of my job at the Monitor, getting to write stories about people like Jill Libby,” he said. “It’s all the peoole, all the coaches and A.D.s and players I’ve covered. That’s the nostalgia, that’s the people, that’s what I’ve been thinking about the past month.”

O’Sullivan, 48, filed his last story this weekend and went out on a high note, with Jonah Wachter’s no-hitter that won Concord High the state Division I baseball title. He said he’s been thinking about moving on for a while, partly because shrinking newsrooms have changed the job of sports writer and editor.

“I’m asked to wear so many hats – like so many people are. I just felt spread too thin. I couldn’t do the job I wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve been there 18 years, I need a new direction.”

His wife, Leslie Fincke, recently ended her stint as COO of Concord Coalition to End Homelessness and his son, Philip, is attending the University of Colorado.

“It’s serendipitous, the timing lined up,” he said. O’Sullivan and Fincke are going to spend at least three months living the van life, traveling around the country in a used camper they recently bought, while they both prepare for their next future. It’s exciting and a little unnerving: “I haven’t not had a job since I was 21 years old.”

O’Sullivan, a native of Portland, Maine, has long wanted to be some sort of wordsmith. He remembers writing what he now realizes was a “fan-fiction” story about “The Littles,” a children’s series about tiny people, and “in college I thought I’d be a poet.” He played tennis and other sports in high school and still plays tennis regularly but it didn’t occur to him to combine these two interests.

“It was my dad who said, why don’t you try sports writing,” he said. “Something just clicked.”

After a stint at the newspaper in Biddeford, Maine, and writing for the Portland Phoenix alternative magazine – and such asides as living on the road as he followed the final Grateful Dead tour – he was hired by the Monitor in 2003. The sports editor who hired him was Sandy Smith, who is now assistant coach for the Concord High softball team. She was coaching the last game of that team that O’Sullivan covered, a fitting reminder about what has been best about his work.

“I’d like to say thank you to people in this area. Concord is such a great sports town. People love youth sports, high school sports, and UNH too,” he said. “It has made my job a joy.”

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of the monthly Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.



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