Windermere High School graduate Ana Bleeker was named female Athlete of the Year at her school a few days before her boyfriend, Olympia High School graduate Kevin Sullivan, was named Male Athlete of the Year at his school.
The awards actually came as a surprise to both. The schools told each of them to attend the senior awards ceremonies at their respective schools the day prior — without any hint of what awaited them.
“It’s an honor,” Bleeker, captain of Windermere’s volleyball team, said. “We were the first team to win districts and make it to regionals, and we were the first team sport that made it to the state finals. It was cool that we were able to set much of school history and set a precedent for future years to come.”
Sullivan attended Windermere High School during his freshman and sophomore years. However, when his family moved to a different house, the assigned school for the area was Olympia, the school he attended during his junior and senior years.
“I know for me, only being able to be at Olympia for two years after I transferred, it meant a lot that I was able to be accepted in that way and welcomed into the Olympia family,” he said. “It was a very prideful moment for me. Being able to be recognized and seen as a member of the Titan family was really nice.”
Bleeker captained the Wolverines volleyball team for three years during her high school career as an athlete. Sullivan also was the captain of the Titan’s football team and the school’s weightlifting team.
Sullivan attended Windermere’s senior awards ceremony and was present when Bleeker received the Athlete of the Year award. Imagine their surprise when they attended Olympia’s awards ceremony a few days later and Sullivan received the same award.
“It was a surprise for all,” Sullivan said. “It was even cooler of a moment that we could share that.”
Because both are fierce competitors in their respective sports, it’s no surprise that mentality also applies to their academics. Bleeker finished high school with a 4.0 unweighted GPA and 5.111 weighted GPA, while Sullivan posted a 4.0+ unweighted GPA and a 5.211 weighted GPA.
“We got academic awards as well for that,” Sullivan said. “I would say the one thing we do compete in is academic success.”
Bleeker and Sullivan have been going to the same schools since their elementary years. They both attended Sunset Park Elementary and Bridgewater Middle. It was not until last year, though, that they decided to start dating.
“I had a few classes with her through middle school,” Sullivan said. “One day she came into my work, and I was like, ‘I have to get her number.’ I had her on social media, but I didn’t talk to her that much. I just knew her from school, and I would talk to her at school. … It worked out.”
Both athletes made a commitment to support each other through all their competitions and tournaments during their last year of high school.
“We share the same goals, and we’re driven by the same thing,” Bleeker said. “So we help keep each other in the right path and push each other to be better at what we want to accomplish.”
For Bleeker, sports run in her family’s bloodline. Both her parents played Division I sports in college. Her dad played football for Boston College and the University of Florida, and her mom played volleyball for the University of South Florida.
“I aways played soccer or gymnastics, trying to stay active,” Bleeker said. “I got introduced to volleyball when I was 9, when we moved to Orlando from Tampa, and it was a love-hate relationship at the beginning. … But after, I fell in love with the team aspect of the sport.”
Sullivan started to play sports at a young age, as well. He played baseball for about two years, starting when he was about 5 years old. He then played soccer for about eight years, as well as basketball and track and field.
“My mom wouldn’t let me play contact football until the last year before high school, so I’ve played football for five years now,” he said. “And weightlifting I started when I got to high school. I didn’t know it was a sport, and then I was introduced to that, and I loved it because it benefited me for football, as well.”
For both, being student-athletes was a big part of their high-school experiences.
“It’s the aspect of different age groups coming together,” Bleeker said. “You start out on the team the first year being the younger one there, figuring out your way. And by the time you are a senior, you are now the old one, the mentor of the younger ones, guiding them through the path that you took, so I think that’s really cool, that leadership moment where you get to grow as a person.”
“It’s a good way to learn and grow and to see the leaders as they graduate, you kind of get to become that person and fill those (shoes),” Sullivan said.
Bleeker will start her college education in the summer, where she will also continue playing volleyball. She will head up to the University of Georgia come July, where she will major in engineering but is still deciding between biochemical or mechanical.
“It’s going to be hard not being able to go to all her games, but I’ll watch them online,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also will continue to play football at the collegiate level. He still has a few more months before heading up to college, as he will start his first semester at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania in the fall. He wants to go into the economics field.
And although their college careers will take them to different states, Bleeker and Sullivan plan to keep dating long-distance. They hope to take trips together and share time when their schedules allow.