Kinlye Apley’s Bret Harte High School career officially came to an end in a drive-thru graduation May 29 in Angels Camp. As she received her diploma, Apley was able to close that chapter in her life, although she had mentally said goodbye a while ago.
Apley, like all in the Class of 2020, had to forgo the final few months of her high school life.
And for a student-athlete who was planning on participating in two spring sports, that was truly a hard pill to swallow.
“I had a lot of fun my first three years of high school, not only with sports, but also with my friends,” Apley said. “But I was really looking forward to these last three months with graduation, Disneyland, senior night, softball and swim. The rug just got pulled out from under us.”
Although her final months of high school did not go the way she planned, that didn’t take away all that she had done in the previous three-and-a-half years. Apley leaves Bret Harte having played water polo, softball, basketball, soccer and was also headed for the swim team for the first time.
The Apley family is no stranger to Bret Harte athletics, as her brother, Logan, played water polo, basketball and baseball.
“Sports have always been something that has been a big part of my life,” Apley said. “It’s not that I do it to just stay active, but it’s that I love the team environment that I get and the friendships and life experiences that come along with it.”
Making a splash
Apley feels most comfortable in the pool playing water polo. Even though her Bret Harte water polo career is complete, she will continue to play next fall at San Joaquin Delta College. Apley was named as a first-team player as a junior and senior and she helped lead the Bullfrogs to their first ever playoff appearance in 2018.
And it just so happened that the year that Bret Harte reached the playoffs was the year Apley decided to dedicate herself fully to the sport she loved.
“During my junior year, I realized that with the team around me, that we had the capabilities and fundamentals to win,” Apley said. “That’s when I realized that if I take this seriously enough that we could win.”
Apley was unable to lead her team back to the playoffs for her senior season, but she knew that with such a young squad, that was most likely going to be the outcome before the year began. But that didn’t stop her from being one of the top players in the league.
“After teams would play us and they’d see what I did in the water, they’d come out to get me and stop me, and that gave me even more drive to want to be relentless in the water and go as hard as I could,” Apley said. “I would see people in the water and they’d say, ‘No, you guard 18. I don’t want her.’ It felt really good.”
Out of the pool, Apley has a fun personality and enjoys laughing and smiling. But in the water, she transforms herself into a single-minded player who is forced and determined to do whatever it takes to win.
“That drive really came out when I played water polo because I realized that it’s a sport that I truly love,” Apley said. “I’ve always loved swimming, so once I got in the pool and realized that not only could I swim, but I could also play a game in the process, it was just that much better. And because it wasn’t just about swimming and it was an actual game, I could just be as aggressive as I wanted with really no repercussions, and I could go as hard as I could.”
Taking a shot
After being named as a first-team water polo player for the second straight year, Apley decided to get out of her comfort zone by trying something new. For the first time in her high school career, Apley joined the basketball team.
The transition from the pool to the court was not as fluid as one might hope. Apley was happy just to try something new.
“I really had nothing better going on in the winter, so I figured that I might as well (play basketball),” Apley said. “It’s something to do where I can stay active and travel and make some new friends. I was looking for some new experiences.”
Because she hadn’t played on a basketball team since her elementary school days, Apley didn’t see much of the court. Yet, while she watched from the bench, she made sure that her voice was heard as she cheered on her teammates.
And even if she got in the game and wasn’t able to contribute like a starter, she didn’t let that bother her, as she tried not to take things too seriously.
“I knew where I was coming from with my experience level,
so I was not going to be upset when I didn’t get something right away,” she said. “I knew that everybody else was better than me and I didn’t really care. I did it for laughs, but I really did enjoy myself.”
No spring fling
Apley got to play in just six softball games before the season came to an end. She had high hopes for her final year and was named as a team co-captain. She had been a three-year varsity player and, like most, was heartbroken when the season was canceled.
“It was a huge letdown,” Apley said. “The friendships that I had on the softball field and connections that I had with all of them had been in the works for three years. This was our senior year and I think we had a really good shot at making the playoffs. It was really hard hearing that we weren’t going to have a softball season.”
Apley was also planning on being a member of the Bret Harte swim team. She was going to participate in the relays, but the season was called before she could compete in a meet. Now, all she is able to do is wonder just what might have been.
“It was my senior year, so I might as well go all out,” Apley said. “It was just the biggest letdown to hear that it was all over.”
Behind the scenes
Not only was Apley active in athletics, but she spent plenty of time doing other things at Bret Harte. She was the 2019 homecoming queen, was the secretary of the Interact Volunteer Club and had a 3.70 GPA. But perhaps what Apley is most proud of is her work as leader of the Christians on Campus Club.
Apley used her faith as a guide for when things might not be going according to plan and there was an opportunity for her to get upset at the circumstances.
“I would use my faith to help me keep my composure when someone is pulling my suit under the water or kicking off and the ref isn’t blowing the whistle,” Apley said. “I had to find that line where I held myself accountable for my actions and my words, rather than going to someone else’s level. I don’t want to be accused of being a hypocrite, when I could have just kept my composure instead of mouthing off.”
Regarding her faith, Apley concluded by saying, “I don’t live this way because I’m forced to; I live this way because I want to. That has made me into the person who I want to be and want others to see, rather than just who I am on the outside.”