After a dozen years in the Oakdale High School water polo program, head coach Diane Kline has decided to step down from her role.
And even though she was not sure of taking the position when it was first presented to her in 2006, the coach now feels she has accomplished everything she can with the sport at OHS.
“I was interviewing for a teaching position at Oakdale High School and they asked me if I would be interested in water polo. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I told them yes,” she explained. “I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure if I was knowledgeable enough, I only knew about water polo because I swam in high school. I came out for a few practices before the start of the 2007 season and was brought on to the frosh/soph teams.”
Kline began coaching in 2007 and coached both the boys and girls for three years and then took over the varsity girls team in 2010.
It would be her run with the varsity Lady Mustangs that cemented her legacy in Oakdale High School water polo. During her time there, the varsity girls went on to win eight of nine Valley Oak League championships (2010-2018) and appeared in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championships, where they won the Section title in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
“I owe a lot to Alan Stender as far as helping me get the big picture. He helped me out so much and was a major supporter of mine. He was coaching the boys at the time and helped me coach during my first few years,” Kline said.
She also credited her players for a lot of her success as well.
“We had so many committed players over the years. These girls really put in work all year round. I really could not have done it without their hard work and dedication,” she noted.
Her brother Brian Kline was the head coach of the boys team but stepped down in 2017, so she took on both the varsity boys and girls squads for 2018. In her one season with the boys she helped guide the team to new heights. An 11-1 league record brought the team’s first Valley Oak League title to the school since 2011. The Oakdale varsity boys also reached the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Finals, falling just short of earning the blue banner.
“It was my great honor to watch Diane coach the four years that I was the head men’s coach. She was the hardest worker on the pool deck and worked even harder off it,” noted her brother Brian. “She is always happy after a win but she gets even more excited when a player accomplishes a skill they have been working hard at. She had a special way of treating everyone on the team like they were the most important player.”
Kline said she had been mulling the idea of retirement over for quite some time, and told OHS Athletic Director Dave Bacigalupi first. Following her announcement to him, she informed her girls team players first and then let the boys know. She made her official announcement during the team’s recent postseason awards ceremony.
She is still in the classroom at Oakdale High School, where she serves as a World History teacher.
“I like interacting with students. I like telling stories and that’s why I teach history,” Kline said. “I want to challenge the students to think. I think that’s what I enjoy the most about my teaching career is that I leave here knowing that I influenced students to learn.”