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Virgen: Rulon enjoys motivating

April 12, 2013|By Steve Virgen
  • U.S. Olympian Kelly Rulon, who won a gold medal in women's water polo in the 2012 London Olympics, talks with Jessa Maurer, 10, at Newport Heights Elementary School on Friday.
U.S. Olympian Kelly Rulon, who won a gold medal in women's… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

It's been eight months since the U.S. women's water polo team won its first gold medal. The celebration, praise and admiration hasn't died down, definitely not in Newport Beach.

Kelly Rulon, a U.S. team member, feels the love practically everywhere she goes, especially when she has her gold medal with her.

Such was the case Friday morning when she visited Newport Heights Elementary, where she helped promote Newport Beach Water Polo and the Newport Beach Swimming Club programs.

Rulon, who said she just moved to Newport Beach this week, is the girls' 14-and-under coach for the Newport Beach Water Polo club. The 28-year-old was away from the pool deck and on the playground at Newport Heights on Friday.

She appeared just as thrilled as the children when she saw them in awe of her gold medal. Lots of love.

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"My life has been something out of a dream," Rulon said, describing her time after winning gold with Team USA. "I've been traveling since this past August, just doing different appearances, different events, different charity events, clinics and camps, all over the United States and the world. It's been so amazing and fun, and exciting to see the support that your country and the water polo community have for you."

Rulon won bronze with the Americans in the 2004 Olympic games. She gained notoriety, just as the rest of the U.S. team, for appearing in ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue" in 2010.

These days she maintains a busy schedule that now includes coaching. She's new to the profession, but she said she enjoys it.

"It's amazing," Rulon said. "It's really a rewarding job that I'm happy to do. I enjoy going to work every day. I enjoy working with the kids, seeing them learn new things not just about water polo, but life experiences as well."

Rulon did not speak formally to the large group of students, but she was very engaging with the kids who approached to meet her.

Several posed for photos with the gold medal.

Gus Oeding, 10, son of Chris Oeding, the two-time Olympic star and former Corona del Mar High standout, was one of those awestruck kids.

"It was pretty exciting," Gus said of holding the Olympic gold medal and posing for a photo.

At such a young age, Gus is just happy to play sports. There is great purity in that. In addition to swimming he also plays soccer.

Who knows what the future holds. The intensity of pushing yourself to the limit for the sake of prowess and goals can wait. For now it's all about being a kid.

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