BY ROGER CLEAVELAND
They took dramatically different paths, but Woodland’s Kylie Bulinski and St. Paul’s Ryan Daniels finished their high school careers with the same perfect ending to their journeys.
Both led their teams to a state championship in the last game of their high school careers while being named their tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and each also earned the greatest distinction the Naugatuck Valley League presents to its athletes.
Bulinski was named the league’s Most Outstanding Female Athlete while Daniels was named the NVL’s Most Outstanding Male Athlete for the year.
Bulinski accomplished the feat while competing in volleyball and softball while Daniels concentrated on being the best baseball player he could be.
“There are a lot of incredible athletes in the NVL in all sports, so this is really one of the greatest honors to be named the Female Athlete of the Year in the NVL,” Bulinski said.
Bulinski had an incredible career at Woodland that included being named All-NVL and All-State this year in volleyball. She was also All-NVL three years in softball while being named All-State as a junior and senior.
Last year she made the Junior Select All-Stars and was named the CHSCA Softball Position Player of the Year. She finished her career with 117 hits, 26 home runs, 117 RBI and a .585 batting average, but most importantly to her she ended it by leading the Hawks to a state championship.
“Words cannot describe how incredible it feels to be a senior captain leading this program in the positive direction that it needs to go,” she said. “Being able to walk off that field for the last time saying, ‘We just won our first state championship for the Woodland softball program’ was surreal. It is something that I will carry with me forever knowing we were the first team to win it, and I helped my team accomplish that.”
Basketball was her first love but it took a backseat to softball once her dad convinced her of the impact she could have on the game as a catcher, and she learned to really embrace the pressure and excitement of being involved in every pitch.
She didn’t play basketball as a senior, because she wanted to dedicate the winter to improving her skills at Softball U in Milford to enhance her scholarship chances. It paid huge dividends as she will be playing Division I softball at the University of Rhode Island.
“I felt a really strong connection with the coach,” Bulinski said. “They were not a very good program, and I loved her ideas to turn the program around and the fact that she saw me as someone who can help her rebuild it. I want to be part of that.”
BY ROGER CLEAVELAND