Success under the most intense pressure has always come naturally for Margaret “Margie” Dingeldein.
A water polo standout at Merced High School, Dingeldein helped the U.S. win a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics in Athens in 2004. Thriving in a high-stress environment didn’t end when she left the pool — she is now an anesthesiologist at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View.
Dingeldein is the keynote speaker for the ninth annual Building Future Champions Dinner and Auction and 22nd annual Ma Kelley Memorial Golf Tournament on April 25 and 26.
Dingeldein joins an accomplished list of keynote speakers, including former San Francisco Giants Manager Dusty Baker, who spoke at last year’s event. The events are part of the celebration to honor Georgette “Ma” Kelley - a member of the Merced community who committed herself to her family, church and education — and for the first time in their storied history, they will be held in Merced.
“I’m very honored to be a part of the event,” Dingeldein says. “I’m excited for the students at UC Merced, for their athletic department to grow and for the entire community to benefit. To contribute to that growth in any way is great.”
Born and raised in Merced, Dingeldein started swimming at a young age. She picked up water polo at the summertime College for Kids camps at Merced College.
Dingeldein was named an All-American and selected to the junior national team during her time at Merced High School. After graduating as valedictorian, she headed to Stanford University, where she helped lead the Cardinal to their first NCAA championship. Dingeldein joined the U.S. national team after her freshman year.
Though she reached the pinnacle of her sport by scoring three goals and winning a medal at the Olympics, the mother of three looks to her time at Stanford as a reason why she is passionate about athletics continuing to grow at UC Merced.
“Playing a college sport was one of the best experiences of my life, and my teammates to this day are like my sisters,” she says. “Whatever the level, whatever the sport, I want others to have that opportunity. If they are interested and excited, I would encourage others to try to enjoy the same opportunity.”
Dingeldein says collegiate athletics can serve as a gift a university can give to the community because it provides kids with role models and houses facilities that allow people to engage in sports.
“Sports are one of the best ways to develop qualities and characteristics that allow you to succeed in other areas of life,” Dingeldein says. “You learn so many life lessons through sports.”
UC Merced Athletic Director Dave Dunham says having a speaker of Dingeldein’s caliber not only appeals to the attendees of the Ma Kelley Memorial events, but also reaches the students who don the Bobcats jerseys.
“To have her come and be a role model to our athletes, to show that you can come from a small town and be extremely successful as an athlete and in a career is really exciting for us,” says Dunham.
Dingeldein echoed a similar sentiment, thinking back to the first time she tossed a water polo ball into the back of the net.
“Merced provided every opportunity to me,” she said. “I learned to dream big, and to be fearless in the pursuit of my dreams.”
A full list of the Ma Kelley Memorial events, including where and when Dingeldein will speak, is available online.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for the events, ranging from $100-5,000. If you are interested in sponsoring a hole, breakfast, lunch or becoming a Golden Bobcat Sponsor, you can find information here.