Lake County Female Athlete of the Year: Grayslake Central's Kate Bullman
Editor's note: The Daily Herald is presenting our 2019-20 high school athletes of the year. We continue today with the Lake County Female Athlete of the Year, Grayslake Central's Kate Bullman.
Long. Athletic. Competitive.
The hoopster has hops, too.
"I think my vertical improved a lot because I played volleyball," said Kate Bullman, who will play Division-I basketball for Illinois State University after capping a stellar career as a multisport athlete for Grayslake Central.
Bullman raised the bar at GC, establishing herself as one of the best female basketball players the school has ever produced. But the Rams never learned how high the bar would have gone if she competed track and field.
Her 6-foot-2 frame and athleticism suggest she could have skied over a high-jump bar.
"I really wanted to try track," Bullman said. "I just couldn't figure out how to make it work with my AAU (basketball) schedule.
"The school track coaches, especially 'Murph' (head coach Shawn Murphy), were all over that. He wanted me to do high jump."
Bullman still soared as a senior for the Rams, and she is the Daily Herald's Lake County Female Athlete of the Year. After putting together an all-area campaign in volleyball last fall, tallying 161 kills and 86 blocks as a middle hitter/blocker, she was named captain of the all-area basketball team. She averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds, as the Rams won a school-record-tying 30 games and a sectional championship (Class 3A) for just the third time in school history.
A four-year varsity hoops player and three-time all-area selection, she graduated as Grayslake Central's career leader in rebounds (984) and third-highest scorer (1,601 points). She ranks in the top five in steals (363) and assists (281), as well.
Rams volleyball coach Klaudia Basierak and basketball coach Steve Ikenn both noted Bullman's drive as one of her top attributes.
"From the day she walked into this building, she wanted to be great," Ikenn said. "She has never been satisfied."
The COVID-19 pandemic didn't affect Bullman as severely as athletes who play a spring sport, but she still missed out. She was supposed to go on a Spring Break vacation with her family to California and after that travel to New Orleans for a Blue Star Basketball All-Star Game. She planned to see the NCAA women's Final Four.
She was scheduled to go to ISU this month and start summer school while working out with her new team. Once-a-week workouts with M14 AAU coach Ryan Haun in Aurora and workouts from ISU's coaches have had to suffice.
Bullman never played club volleyball because of her commitment to basketball, but some college volleyball programs contacted her. She was a three-year varsity player for the Rams.
"I got recruited by club coaches and I was told by a lot of people who know volleyball way better than I do, 'You could have been really good,' but I was like, 'Sorry, I don't like volleyball as much as I like basketball,' " Bullman said. "I am honored that they think that."
Volleyball, she says, made her a better basketball player. She excelled at blocking shots in both sports.
"I think jumping so much at the (volleyball) net and having to move laterally so much and read the other side helped me with basketball," she said.
Her two sports allowed her to disguise one of her few weaknesses as an athlete.
"I tried a lot of sports when I was younger, including softball/Tee-Ball, but I could just not throw," Bullman said with a laugh. "I have never been able to throw at all. It's so ugly."