Sophia Rampulla, who led Union Grove to the Southern Lakes Conference championship and the WIAA sectional finals, has been named Player of the Year by Southern Lakes Newspapers. (Photo by Mike Ramczyk)

 

By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

Union Grove junior Sophia Rampulla’s name is up on the red all-time records wall at the school’s gymnasium.

As a freshman in 2019, the 5-foot-10 do-it-all wing snatched 10 steals in one game, a record that stands until this day.

A star was born as a wide-eyed 15-year-old was getting playing time with a loaded Broncos squad that won the Southern Lakes Conference.

Fast forward to Monday at the main gym at Union Grove High School, and Rampulla is all smiles as she palms a basketball with ease for a photo shoot.

It’s no surprise that the Grove’s leader in just about every statistical category in 2021-22 can also palm a basketball.

Rampulla has become a bona fide star, as evidenced by her banner junior season in which she led Union Grove to a 25-3 record and a WIAA Division 2 sectional championship appearance.

With an entire season left to play this coming winter, Rampulla is already at the top or near the top in several all-time categories for the Broncos.

Before her junior season started, she accepted a full athletic scholarship from NCAA Division 1 UW-Milwaukee.

The player of the year in the Southern Lakes Conference and Racine County, Rampulla earned honorable mention all-state honors in Division 2.

She became Union Grove’s second all-time rebounder (578), second in blocks (106) and first in assists (258) this past season.

She also recorded 115 assists last season, a school record.

For the season, Rampulla averaged 11.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

“Sophia is an unselfish all-around basketball player,” said Union Grove coach Rob Domagalski. “She led our team in every major statistical category except for scoring, which was second behind her teammate Syd Ludvigsen. She is a great example that a player can be great at basketball by contributing in other categories other than scoring.”

“Sophia has a great vision of the floor and is one of the best passers I’ve ever coached in my 22-year coaching career at Union Grove. She’s only going to get better.”

For her fantastic junior season, Rampulla has been named the 7th annual Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Girls Basketball player of the year.

Southern Lakes Newspapers correspondent Mike Ramczyk recently caught up with Rampulla, who was in a rush to get to soccer practice, to discuss basketball, life and the next chapter.

 

      SLN: What does it mean to win all of these postseason awards?

SR: It means a lot to me and is a very humbling honor to win player of the year. My team and I have worked very hard all season and in the end the hard work pays off.

      SLN: Why have you reached this level as a basketball player?

SR: I love the game of basketball and have committed myself to it at a very young age. I always practice 100% and put in more hours into the gym to better myself as a player.

      SLN: How did it feel to have your team finish one game away from state?

SR: Of course we were disappointed in our loss in the sectional finals however I’m very proud of our team’s overall record including winning conference and regionals.

      SLN: What makes the Lady Broncos team and basketball program so special?

SR: Many of us have played basketball together for a very long time, which has created a strong chemistry on the court. Also our coaching staff is very talented and has a long history with the program. For example Coach Alyssa Thomas has played basketball at Union Grove High School with Coach Domagalski as her coach.

      SLN: Are you playing college basketball? If so, how did that happen?

SR: I verbally committed to play Division 1 basketball for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in August 2021. The UWM head coach (Kyle Rechlicz) noticed me at the Chicago Nike Tournament of Champions in July. The week after I got a call from my coach (coach Domagalski) who said the head coach of UWM wanted to hop on a call and talk.

Immediately after I called Coach Rechlicz and had a very long conversation with her about how she noticed me and how much she loved my playing style. I stayed in touch with her and a couple weeks later went on an unofficial visit to UWM for a tour and met the coaches and team. I fell in love with the program, and it felt like it was the right place. It really checked off my boxes of being close to home and family-oriented. Then the following week after the visit I verbally committed.

      SLN: Where and when did you start in basketball? What made you fall in love with it?

SR: I grew up in Mount Pleasant and moved when I was 9 years old to Union Grove. Some of my favorite memories were playing outside with my cousins and brothers, whether that was playing 3v3 basketball, tackle football, or kickball. And yes I was always the one that ended up with a bloody nose. It was the reality of being the youngest girl out of my five boys (two brothers and three cousins). At the end of the day it definitely shaped me into the person I am on the court.

      SLN: How big is your family? How have they influenced your basketball career?

SR: I have a pretty large family. I am the youngest and only girl. I have two older brothers. They both played sports at UG. Sam played basketball and volleyball. Dominic played volleyball and golf. Then I have three cousins that I am very close with – Joe, Nolan, and Charlie Rampulla, all played sports for Union Grove. Charlie is a Junior at UG.

      SLN: How do you balance sports and school work? What do you like about school? What drives you crazy?

SR: I really try to manage my time to balance sports and school work. I always try to make sure I get my work done at school and leave my time after school for my practices, whether that is basketball, soccer, or volleyball. I enjoy the variety of classes that I am offered in school. Nothing really drives me crazy about school.

      SLN: What’s the biggest piece of advice you could give a kid that wants to grow up to be the next Sophia Rampulla?

SR: Work hard and dedicate yourself to your sport. Have fun and make memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Who is Sophia Rampulla?

• Basketball is … life.

I am player of the year because … hard work, dedication, teammates, coaches, family

• Favorite movie: Spider-Man No Way Home, All marvel movies

• Favorite show: It’s close between Chicago Fire, NCIS LA and Outer Banks

• Favorite song: my favorite song depends on my mood for the day

• Favorite social media: Snapchat

• One thing people don’t know about me: I’ve been to Sicily twice because I have relatives there.

• Pregame food ritual? Whatever is for team dinner.

• If you could have dinner with 1 person dead or alive, who would it be and why? I would say my Nonno (my grandpa) because he passed away before I was born and would have loved to watch my cousins and I grow up playing our sports.