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Kline Steps In As Varsity Boys Water Polo Coach
8-22 OAK Kline
Merced resident and two-year assistant coach Brian Kline was named Oakdale Highs varsity boys water polo coach this year. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

The Klines are in at Oakdale High.

This summer, OHS named two-year assistant, Brian Kline, as the head coach of Oakdale’s varsity boys water polo program. The move creates a brother-sister pairing, as Brian joins his sister and head varsity girls coach, Diane Kline, on the Mustang water polo staff.

“I am very excited to be able to coach alongside my sister,” Kline said on Sunday. “I sat on her bench last year and helped with her team, but now we get to be head coaches together.

“It was actually pretty exciting when I was named head coach, just to see the amount of acceptance and eagerness by the administration to put athletics as one of the main goals of the school. Athletics is really a community effort and it’s exciting to be a part of a community that openly supports athletics.”

Kline replaces longtime coach Alan Stender, who stepped down from his head coaching role after the graduation of his daughter (2011-12 Oakdale Leader Female Athlete of the Year Savannah Stender). Coach Stender said he still plans to coach club water polo teams and assist Diane Kline with the varsity girls (his younger daughter Shelby Stender is still on the team), but freed up his schedule to better suit his position with Atlas Pacific Engineering.

“Brian has been with (coach David Earle) and I for two years now and he knows the drill,” coach Stender said. “He’s been down there running workouts and I think he is going to do a great job.”

At 29, Kline is two years younger than his sister and a graduate of Ceres High. Ceres is where he got serious with the sport in competition with Oakdale in the old Modesto Metro Conference. He played water polo for the University of California, Merced, and began coaching at Ceres in 2004. He was playing Masters Water Polo at MJC when he met coach Stender, who convinced him to bring his coaching skills to Oakdale in 2010.

Now Kline holds the reins to a program that has won four straight undefeated conference titles and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals in each of the last two seasons. The Mustangs graduated several top players in May, leaving a void for incoming varsity players to fill in 2012. It’s an interesting opportunity for Kline to mold a team.

“I’m pretty excited,” the new head coach said. “We have a young squad that is very energetic and eager to show they belong on the team.

“I think on following the foundation that Allen put forth and moving forward as a team toward success is something that will hopefully be a product of hard work, dedication and effort.”

The success of a program is a process, and Kline said the most productive way to garner more players from OHS to join his junior varsity and varsity teams is simple.

“The easiest way to recruit for water polo is to throw the ball in a pool and let the kids play a bit,” Brian said. “Once you get involved at any level you will be involved the rest of your life.

“Water polo grabs you and holds on.”

And Kline said he plans to hold on to his position at OHS as well.

“I hope to be here a long time,” he said, laughing. “Right now they would have to run me out of here to get me to leave.”