Westerville News & Public Opinion

Racquetball

Ulliman wins two Olympic medals

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It's been a banner year for Kyle Ulliman in a pair of sports.

The 2014 graduate of Westerville Central High School won a silver medal in singles and a bronze in doubles at the 41st annual Junior Olympic Racquetball Championships held June 25-29 in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

In football last fall for Central, Ulliman, a free safety, was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division and honorable mention all-district after finishing second on the team in tackles with 77 and tying for the team lead in interceptions with three.

"It's been an exciting year," Ulliman said. "I'm more proud of football because I like football more. Football is my favorite sport. Racquetball is also something I should be proud of."

In Colorado, Ulliman, 18, reached the final of the boys 18-and-under singles blue division before losing to Sawyer Lloyd of Petaluma, Calif., 15-4, 15-11. Ulliman was ranked 45th in the nation by USA Racquetball and seeded 12th in the tournament, and defeated the ninth- and 21st-seeded players on his way to the blue division final.

Ulliman won a bronze medal in the 18-and-under doubles competition with his partner, Thomas Carter of Murrysville, Pa.

Ulliman has competed in the Junior Olympics eight times, finishing first in doubles in 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2007 and first in singles in 2010 and 2007.

He qualified for the Junior World Team in 2011 and 2013, but was unable to participate because of football-related conflicts since the event was held in October.

The Junior Olympic Championships is racquetball's premier junior event, with players from across the country competing in more than 50 divisions separated by age and gender.

Last fall, Ulliman helped Central's football team to the best season in program history, finishing 10-2 overall with a 40-24 loss to Austintown Fitch in a Division I, Region 1 second-round playoff game. The Warhawks won the OCC-Cardinal title at 7-0.

"Racquetball helps my endurance," Ulliman said. "Football is a bunch of quick, 110-percent movement and that's kind of how racquetball is. Racquetball helps me get ready for football."

Ulliman began playing racquetball at age 6 behind the guidance of his father, Pete, who played in professional events before sustaining a back injury. Pete remains active in the sport as a player, coach and tournament manager for several events throughout the country.

Kyle's mother, Debbie, also is active in the sport.

"Kyle has progressed very quickly," said Pete, who serves as his son's coach. "He's extremely athletic, much more so than I. He loves the sport and it's fun to watch him."

Kyle's goal is to play professionally on the International Racquetball Tour.

"I don't see myself playing at a pro level in football, so I picture myself being a pro racquetball player more than I see myself being a pro football player," he said. "That would be fun. I'd like to be in the top 10 or top 20 of ranked people in the world. That would be sweet."

Ulliman's success in football and racquetball will allow him to play both sports at Baldwin Wallace University, where racquetball is a club sport and football competes in NCAA Division III.

Ulliman was the 2013-14 Ohio Racquetball Association Scholarship Award recipient.

"One of the reasons why Baldwin Wallace was a nice pick for him is because he gets to do two of the things he enjoys the best, and that's play football and racquetball," Central football coach John Magistro said. "I support the fact that kids play other sports. I really believe that football will prepare you for those other sports as well as any sport I know."

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