By Jason Arndt
As a freshman, Sophia Rampulla saw some playing time for the perennial strong Union Grove girls basketball team, which wrapped another Southern Lakes Conference title.
While she finished among the top three in some categories, including rebounds per game as a freshman, Rampulla admits she never imagined what her four-year Broncos’ career would look like.
Four years later, Rampulla certainly collected multiple accolades, including back-to-back Southern Lakes Conference Player of the Year while finishing as Union Grove’s all-time leader in scoring (1,225 points), rebounds (871 and assists (393) and second only to Alyssa Thomas in steals with 280.
Broncos coach Rob Domagalski, who has known Rampulla since she was in the fifth grade, said the senior’s accomplishments came naturally.
“She has broke almost every record in our school and she did in a way that just came naturally,” Domagalski said. “We never forced the issue, it was never one of those things where we wanted Sophia to shoot every single time she touched the ball. She is an unselfish player and you could see the growth from freshman year up to senior year with all of these accolades.”
Rampulla, meanwhile, earned Associated Press All-State honors and became a finalist for Ms. Basketball her senior season.
With several accolades, including recognition statewide and in conference, Rampulla has been named the All-Southern Lakes Newspapers Player of the Year.
During an interview with Southern Lakes Newspapers, Rampulla exhibited her humble demeanor, immediately crediting her coaching staff, teammates, and school for helping her.
“Little freshman me really didn’t think about the individual stuff, accolades,” she said. “I never expected to be up (on the leaderboard) so many times.”
Rampulla moved to the area in the fifth grade, enrolling at Union Grove Elementary School, and eventually joined a travel basketball team consisting of multiple senior teammates and coached by Domagalski.
Her team consisted of Union Grove teammates Faith Smith, Carolyn May, Sydney Ludvigsen, Elizabeth Spang and Ava Domagalski, as well as Westosha Central seniors Taya Witt and Reese Rynberg, along with Grace Betker from Racine Park.
“I think she has always been humble,” Rob Domagalski said. “I have known her since she moved to the area in the fifth grade.”
Growing up, Rampulla spent time playing with her older brothers, Sam and Dominic, and cousin Nolan Rampulla.
Sam and Dominic as well as Nolan each produced respectable athletic careers at Union Grove.
“Playing with them made me feel like this is something I wanted to do,” Sophia said. “They are probably why I am such a great player today.”
She recalled Nolan teaching her how to shoot a left-handed layup as a youngster.
While she honed her craft in basketball, Sophia has excelled in two other sports, including volleyball and soccer.
Rampulla said playing multiple sports helped her become a better basketball player, since volleyball bolstered her vertical leap, and soccer sharpened her coordination.
Domagalski said multi-sport athletes, especially one who accomplished so much in one sport, are rare in an era of specialization.
“It is amazing because it doesn’t happen anymore. Basketball is her go-to sport, obviously,” Domagalski said. “She has friends from different sports, it is not just basketball. She is a well-liked student inside and outside the classroom.”
Rampulla said she felt the overwhelming support during a game against Elkhorn on Jan. 26 when she eclipsed 1,000 career points for the Broncos.
The career benchmark, Rampulla said, marked the most memorable game of her career.
“I want to say it was the game that I had 1,000 points against Elkhorn. The atmosphere was crazy, there was actually a crowd there,” she said. “The overwhelming support I felt was great.”
“I just felt loved.”
Rampulla, however, isn’t finished playing basketball.
She plans on playing for Division 1 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Rampulla, who verbally committed in the early recruiting process, said she almost immediately fell in love with the UW-Milwaukee campus.
During a conversation with Panthers’ coach Kyle Rechlicz, Rampulla felt a positive vibe, and noted UW-Milwaukee checked off all the boxes – being a Division 1 school and playing close to home.
For Domagalski, Rampulla’s accolades came during a well-rounded career.
“She did it with passing, rebounding, assists, steals,” he said. “She is the all-time leader in rebounding, all-time leader in assists, all-time leader in scoring.
“For Sophia, she is the best passer to ever come through,” Domagalski added. “It is amazing what she has been able to see on the court and made her teammates better.
For the full list of the Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area team, see the April 13 edition of the Standard Press, as well as the April 14 edition of the Waterford Post and Westine Report.