Western Albemarle High School senior Luke Kielbasa was recently selected by the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Foundation to receive one of five student-athlete achievement awards out of more than 120 nominations statewide. The awards went to high school student athletes who not only excel in their sport, but also stand out academically and within their communities. The winners each received a $1,500 scholarship to be used toward furthering their education.
Though Kielbasa has earned a 4.6 GPA in high school with nary a B on his transcript and belongs to multiple National Honors societies, he’s most proud of his extensive and wide-ranging community service. “I’m part of the county’s Student Advisory Council, which I got elected to my freshman year,” he said. “They take two every year and you’re in it for four years, and I’ve been the executive since my sophomore year. We meet with the other high schools in our district and we discuss sustainability, public policy, community service, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and it’s been great.”
Kielbasa has helped run school events, assisted teachers in the classroom, and was given the Western Warrior Spirit award for the athlete that best embodies the principles of the Western Albemarle athletic program. “I’ve gotten to work with the yearbook team for all four years and I volunteer to help with Special Olympics tennis on the weekends,” he said. “I just really like doing a lot of things, being involved.”
High-level participation in sports, academics, and service all take time, and there’s only so much in the day. “I feel driven to do all of it,” said Kielbasa, “but it does kind of pile on. Tennis and school are both pretty intense—I didn’t get a lot of sleep my junior year—but I wouldn’t change anything. It’s worth it. I love being busy, and I’m just lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of so many things. I’m glad I could do it.” If he had a bit more space in his schedule, he said, he’d probably explore politics.
“I went on a trip to D.C. with my leadership team in January, and it was just amazing,” he said. “We got to go in Congressional offices and meet different people. The Capitol was awesome. A model Congress that we had here at WAHS was also fun. All the seniors were passing bills. I was in the House of Representatives. So, I do have a big interest in politics, and I think about being a lawyer or maybe a politician.”
For college, though, Kielbasa plans to pursue medicine. “I interned in the office of an orthopedic surgeon at UVA this summer and learned so much,” he said. “It was so cool.” He’s interested in paralysis and prosthetics, perhaps related to sports injuries, and thinks about being a surgeon. “I’d like to work in a specific environment that requires very few mistakes,” he said with a smile. “I like working under stress and I wouldn’t want to have something too easy. I really like the idea of being able to help people.”
Kielbasa is the middle kid, with one sister a fourth-year at UVA and another a freshman at WAHS. He says that his dad got him into tennis when he was 10, and his mom is “one of the hardest-working people I know,” but they don’t pressure him to be perfect. “They have always firmly believed that, hey, if you get a B you get a B, if you get a C you get a C. Never pushing, very inclusive, they just want me to do the best that I can.”
By all accounts, he’s doing pretty well, even if AP Calculus ends up being that one B this semester. Already accepted at UVA, he’s waiting to hear from the remaining colleges he applied to, and he’s not interested in taking a gap year. “I want to get there as fast as possible,” he said. “I’m definitely interested in potentially a double major, maybe a minor in English. I’ve also thought about Japanese as a minor.” Oh, and he may do a little volunteering as well. Best of luck, Luke.