Oldaker to coach USA team headed to China
Dori Oldaker is a woman of few words, and even fewer when she receives shocking, yet pleasant news, such as when she learned that she had been selected to coach the USA U18 girls basketball team at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games to be held this summer in Nanjing, China.
“Wow,” she said. “Here I am a little old nobody from Enon Valley.
“It’s awesome to think I’ll be working with the finest athletes from around the country. It’s a dream come true.”
For the past three years, Oldaker has been living a dream working as a court coach for the national team trials held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 125 athletes participate in the trials, which are used to determine the roster that represents the USA. This year’s trials begin May 21.
“It’s a coaches’ paradise,” explained Oldaker. “The athletic ability is unbelievable.”
Oldaker, who since 2003 has been the head women’s basketball coach at Mt. Lebanon High School, noted that she had worked with several players that participated in the NCAA Division I national championship game. While she coached Madison Cable in high school, the sophomore forward who averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds for Notre Dame, is not the only notable with which Oldaker has had contact. She worked in Colorado with Taya Remer from Notre Dame as well as Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Breanna Stewart, all from the University of Connecticut.
“Five kids in the national title game,” she said. “How neat is that?”
Obviously, for Oldaker, who attended Blackhawk High School in Beaver County, seeing the sights will be neat. However, the South Fayette resident has one mission in mind when she travels to the Orient shortly after her 46th birthday in August.
“The Great Wall,” she said of the No. 1 tourist attraction. “It’s all everybody talks about. You’ve got to go and see it.
“My job though,” she added, “is to go [to China] and hopefully get a gold medal for the United States.”
Bringing home gold has been part of Oldaker’s resume. At Mt. Lebanon, she has compiled a 255-57 record. She owns a 360-75 career record in 15 seasons as a head coach. Oldaker guided the Blue Devils to four straight PIAA championships appearances from 2008-2011, winning three consecutive state banners, including an undefeated 31-0 season in 2009.
Before taking over at Mt. Lebanon, Oldaker coached her alma mater. She led the Cougars to WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA titles in 1999 and 2000.
Five times Oldaker has been named The Associated Press Pennsylvania Big School Coach of the Year. In 2005, she was honored as the Johnny Unitas Sportsmanship Coach of the Year and as the WPIAL Quad-A Coach of the Year and in 2001 she was tabbed as the Dapper Dan Sportswoman of the Year.
Inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Western Pennsylvania Girls’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, Oldaker earned every honor imaginable as a player, including Beaver County co-Athlete of the Year in 1986. She set several scoring records at Blackhawk and she played collegiately at Penn State University.
While she has the resume, Oldaker is still coping with her selection as coach of the national squad, which will be a unit of four players competing 3-on-3 rather than 5 versus 5.
“I’m still grasping with the news myself,” she said. “I’m excited of course, but I’m still learning about it. To be honest, I don’t exactly know what it all entails. But I’ve worked with that age group, so the experience I’ve had the last two times will help. Once I’m in Colorado and working with the team and players, I know more.”
From May 30 through June 1, teams will compete in the 3-on-3 national championships, and from there Oldaker will try to pick four players for the team that will travel to China. The U18 Youth Olympic squad will travel Aug. 16-28 to China.
“I’m nervous and excited,” she said of the journey. “Obviously a lot of thought has to go into this and what needs to take place because this affects a lot of people.”
The journey impacts Oldaker’s family and students. Her husband, Mark, will stay back in the states and help ready the couple’s two young children for the new school year. Mark and Dori have two daughters, Taylor and Ryan. Oldaker also teaches second grade at Washington Elementary School.
While she said that one never knows what doors an opportunity such as she has been afforded opens, Oldaker assures she will return to teaching and coaching in the Mt. Lebanon School District. “I’m not leaving,” she said emphatically.