Elliott: Mom represented Canada at Olympics, prospect son heads to Louisville
By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Kellan Tulio knows all about setting the bar.
He wanted a scholarship to a quality school with an excellent program and he secured one. He’s signed and sealed for the University of Louisville next fall.
There is every reason that Tulio should be familiar with setting the bar. He’s from Emmaus, Penn., about half an hour south of Allentown and north of Philadelphia. His mom, Julie White, certainly knew all about setting the bar high and clearing it.
Louise Walker; left; hugs Julie White after both qualified for the Montreal Olympics. Photo: Dick Loek.
White wore Canada’s red and white colours competing in the high jump event at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. White finished 10th of 21 competitors at the Olympic Stadium, as Rosemarie Ackermann of East Germany won gold in front of 70,000 fans. Italy’s Sara Simeoni took silver and Bulgaria’s Yordanka Blagoeva gained bronze.
The women’s high jump event was staged July 26-to-28 ... which was 26-to-28 days after her 16th birthday. White was competing the summer between grade 10 and grade 11. After suffering a bone bruise on her left knee, her plant leg White was unable to train the month before Montreal.
The night before the qualifying round coaches told White, “You have to try.” The 5-foot-8, 134-pounder cleared 1.89, but the next day it was too painful and White had to withdraw.
How ‘bout that?
Not even in grade 11, a month into her 16th year and White is competing against the best high jumpers in the world.
Since White was born in Canada -- not to mention jumping for her country -- her son Kellan Tulio is eligible for a World Baseball Classic roster down the road, much like Jameson Taillon of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and others.
The good genes have been passed on to her son.
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Tulio is the fourth-ranked Canadian in Baseball America’s top 300 list of high schoolers and collegians.
Kellan Tulio is the fourth-ranked Canadian on the highly-respected Baseball America’s top 300 combined list of high schoolers and collegians. He is listed 210th overall.
Ontario Blue Jays OF Dasan Brown (Oakville, Ont.) tops the list sitting at 107th. Next are Okotoks Dawgs INF Cesar Valero (Calgary, Alta.) listed 125th and Auburn Tigers INF Edourd Julien (Quebec City, Que.) is 142nd.
Tulio made his debut on Thursday for the Emmaus High Hornets in a 2-0 win over North Hampton. He pitched six innings, walking one and fanning 12 in his six-pitch, 70-pitch outing in front of roughly 14 scouts from pro teams.
Last summer Boston Red Sox scout Ray Fagnant brought his East Coast Pro team to Rogers Centre in July. Tulio worked two scoreless.
He met C Owen Diodati (Niagara Falls, Ont.) of the Great Lake Canadians and LHP Keegan Pulford-Thorpe (Newmarket, Ont.) of the Toronto Mets, who are both with the Canadian Junior National Team. Tulio was with Pulford-Thorpe at the Area Code Games at Long Beach and also when the East Coast Pro came to Rogers Centre in 2018.
“I met Keegan, he’s a good dude, and Owen too,” Tulio said, who thinks he retired Diodati on a ground ball or “a pop up.” “Owen caught really well, he was able to handle their pitchers. Keegan threw some good quality pitches against us.”
When Kellan pitched at Rogers Centre last July, White spoke to Greg Hamilton, director of national teams.
“I wanted to let them know he was Canadian,” White said. “We had a real good talk, never wanting to displace someone who comes up through the system in Canada. Greg explained that the junior team is made up of kids that come up through the system.”
Tulio picked Louisville because “it was a good fit and felt like home.” The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder earned Perfect Game Preseason All American Atlantic - All Region First Team in 2019.
Also, he gained All-American honours winning PG Preseason Underclassmen in 2016, Preseason Underclassmen in 2017 and Preseason Underclass Second Team honours in 2018.
Tulio made the All-Tournament Teams with Tri State Arsenal at the 14U Super25, the National Championship, WWBA Northeast Qualifier and the WWBA Freshman World Championship all in 2015.
The next year, he did the same at the 16U National Championship and the MSI Bubba 15U National Championship.
In 2017, he again was all tournament Team at the16U Perfect Game World Series, the WWBA Underclass World Championship and the 17U WWBA Northeast Qualifier.
And last year Tulio was named to the Super 25 17U Mid-Atlantic super qualifier and the National Showcase all-tourney teams.
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White was born in Bancroft and went to Centennial High in Brampton. She then earned a scholarship to Boston University. Like a lot of people who go south for schooling, White fell in love and never returned to live in Canada.
Going through the process twice -- once as a teenager and once as a mom -- White can compare saying that the NCAA academic and athletic process is much easier to navigate now.
“The schools help ensure success through sports,” White said. “Some would say support, some would say pamper. My parents couldn’t afford for me to go to Boston.”
Her father Patrick White worked 22 years at the Ford factory in Brampton. Her mother Mary, 91, is living is in Kewsick, Ont.
White said she arrived in Boston she was “in the deep end of ocean.”
Both White and her husband Cliff Tulio like watching hockey. Julie cheers for the Maple Leafs, Cliff for the Philadelphia Flyers. Kellan has twin brothers, Patrick and Owen, who are both in grade 10. They won’t be competing in the world high jump championships this summer. Both are basketball players.
White says Kellan has some natural ability, is self aware and knows what’s going on around him.
“I can observe him as an athlete not only as a mom, I can look at him objectivity,” said the former Olympian. “Like a lot of high schoolers, he has some development.”
Besides the Area Code Games and the East Coast Pro, Tulio pitched at Fenway Park, Perfect Game National showcase at Jupiter. Sometimes he has been invited and pitched for his team, the Tri-State Arsenal,
So far he has had a few signability visits from scouts (“Will you sign if drafted? as everyone in the first 10 rounds is asked) ... or “mini job interviews” as mom calls them.
Julie White, who was born in Bancroft, Ont. was inducted into the Boston University Hall of Fame in 1991.
At Boston University, White graduated in 1984 and was inducted into the BU Hall of Fame in 1991. In her first meet, she set a New England women’s collegiate record in the high jump and established a school record in the long jump.
Her finest year as a Terrier came in 1982, when she took first place in the pentathlon at the AIAW National Indoor Track and Field Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Julie won the event with a meet-record 4,268 points.. She thus became Boston University’s first female national champion, and earned All-America honors.
Indoors, she also won Greater Boston and New England championships in three events - the 55-meter hurdles, the long jump and the high jump. At the New England meet, White ran a leg on the gold-metal winning 1600-meter relay team to help the Terriers to their third consecutive team title.
During the outdoor season that same year, Julie won three Greater Boston Championships and two New England crowns. That success earned her MVP of the 1981-82 women’s track team. She also received the Mildred Barnes award as the University’s top female athlete.
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The mother-son competitive rivalry continues whether they on the way to a game or in the kitchen.
“In Kelllan’s mind I’m just some old person, we always tease each other,” said White who often tells her son, “Pitch like a hockey player.”
Tulio may have pitched at Fenway, but mom will be quick to tell him: “Dude, you’re not even the best athlete in the house.”
So, Kellan, who is the best athlete in your house?
“Me, of course,” he said.