Curtis Lineberger has a long list of accolades, along with articles, awards, medals, and trophies amassed during his career as a water polo goalie throughout the years. The desire to compete continues to flow through the now 60-year-old, as does the thrill of the win.
This weekend in a three-day tournament, Master’s National Championships, Lineberger along with his teammates will be competing in Irvine with hopes to bring home a victory. There will be two teams competing in two different age brackets, 55 to 60 and 60 to 65.
“I am on the cusp so for this year I can compete in the 55 to 60 bracket,” said Lineberger, a former Riverbank resident who now makes his home in Oakdale. “I think the coaches intend to play me on both teams, but we will see.”
The team trains once a week in the Bay Area and the rest of the training depends on each individual. Lineberger’s training includes weight lifting, running, and the swim stream workout in his pool.
The Santa Barbara Blue team he plays for is based out of San Jose and has about 16 players total including two goalies.
“Goalies are a very specialized position,” added Lineberger. “I don’t have to worry about the offense and the intricacies. It is more of a one on one in a team sport.
“It is kind of a strange paradox there.”
Not only did Lineberger travel to Perth in Western Australia in 2008 to play on the U.S. Water Polo team for the Worldwide Championships, but he has a long résumé starting as far back as high school, winning the CIF State Championship for Sunnyhills High School in Fullerton.
“The coach took one look at me and said you are going to be a goalie,” he explained of how his career got started in high school. “I have never played any other position. I just had a knack for it.”
He was then recruited by a coach at UC Davis and accepted the offer. There he was All Conference and All American and, after four years of pool and school, received his degree.
He proceeded to coach at Downey High School for a few years as an assistant coach and has also spent a few years as a referee.
Eight years ago he was called upon for the World Championships and now he will be participating in the Master’s National Championships.
“I have had my hands in the fire in all aspects of the sport but I have enjoyed playing the most,” said Lineberger. “I am a competitor.”
Lineberger is a former Riverbank City Councilman and may be known for enlisting the help of “Officer Sam” many years ago for an area in Riverbank that was highly traveled at great speeds in the 1990s.
Currently Lineberger resides in rural Oakdale where has been for the past several years with his wife of 39 years.
Heading to the tournament this weekend, Lineberger is optimistic and looks forward to the competition.
Using his special kick known as the “egg beater” and the ability to propel himself several feet or inches above water with rapid force, keeps Lineberger competitive and a threat to the other teams.
“Anybody that is a goalie in any sport by definition is a masochist,” expressed Lineberger. “You are getting in front of high speed objects coming at your body.
“They (goalies) are generally a little off center.”