MATTHIAS LEGUIRE / for The Courier
Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman talks with Kasey Knippen while Minster shoots a pair of free throws during Saturdays Division IV girls basketball state final at Value City Arena.

By MICHAEL BURWELL
STAFF WRITER
COLUMBUS Dave Kleman and his Ottoville squad achieved milestone after milestone this season.
Although they came up just short on Saturday of achieving their most-desired milestone, the schools first state title in girls basketball, the Big Green had a memorable year.
Kleman joined a select group of coaches to reach 500 career wins. Senior guard/forward/center Bridget Landin eclipsed the 1,000-point mark. And for the second time in seven trips to the state tournament, Ottoville finished as state runner-up.
What will Kleman remember most about this season?
Just spending time with the girls, Kleman said after the Big Greens 63-48 loss to Minster in the Division IV state championship at Value City Arena in Columbus. The 500 wins are nice, being around the girls is the most important. We really have a bond and a couple of our seniors from last year were down there crying their eyes out with these guys on the bench after the game, and thats what its all about.
Like Jerry (Snodgrass) and Dr. (Dan) Ross (said after the game), its about the relationships you form with the kids and with each other. When youre at a wedding five years from now and you see these guys, they all come up and say hey coach, how ya doing, give me a hug or Ill do the same thing. And I told them weve got to be invited to their weddings or were crashing. Were going to be dancing at their weddings and stuff, but thats what it is in the community.
Kleman became one of 20 coaches in OHSAA girls basketball history to reach the 500-win milestone when Ottoville throttled Delphos St. Johns 60-20 on Feb. 10.
The Big Green have gone 507-123 in Klemans 26 seasons as coach, including 27-3 this year in which Ottoville tied a school-record for most wins in a season (27-1 in 2013).
No losing season, 14 times having 20 wins or more in a season and a dozen Putnam County League titles during his tenure.
Not bad for someone who in his younger years wasnt so sure about being a girls basketball coach.
Its more the journey than the ending, thats what its really about. As you get older, as an older coach, you understand that and especially with girls, Kleman said.
When I was younger, youd have told me I was coaching girls, youre crazy.
And then, God has a sense of humor, he gave me three daughters, no sons, so then I started coaching girls and I found that the girls were very appreciative and I was appreciative of coaching them and it softened me up quite a bit.
Burwell, 419-427-8407
mikeburwell@thecourier.com

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