Aug 29, 2013
By Josh McSwain, Mizzou Strategic Communications Assistant
Freshman Linda Steinhardt has played volleyball since she was four years old, so it is easy to see how she would have the passion and skill to play at the colligate level. But she is not the first one in her family to play collegiate volleyball. Her sister Megan, seven years her senior, played at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, and her mother, Mary, played at the North Carolina. Her father also coached volleyball for a number of years.
Steinhardt grew up in Cedar Park, Texas, a suburb of Austin about twenty minutes north of the city. Due to the proximity to Austin, she grew up a Longhorn fan, and her mother teaches in the kinesiology department at the University, and also assists with some health research.
After watching some of Megan's matches and starting to play herself, Linda fell in love with the sport almost instantly. Even though volleyball was always at the top of her list, she played a wide variety of sports as a kid. She played racquetball and tennis with her father when she was young, and said she even played football with boys in elementary school. She played on club teams throughout elementary and middle school, qualifying for the Junior Olympics seven straight years. During that stretch, the team finished in the top five three times and metaled twice; in addition, her U-16 team finished second in Nationals in 2011. In High School, she went on to become an one of the most prolific players in Cedar Park High School's history.
She started for all four years, making the playoffs every year, and was a two time team captain. But she earned acclaim outside her school as well--she was named to the Dazzling Dozen, which recognizes the top 12 players in the Austin area, all four years in High School, and named Dazzling Dozen Newcomer of the Year as a freshman.
Despite all the personal accolades she received, she said that the most meaningful achievement was during her senior year when the team advanced to the state semi-finals, which eclipsed their regional final appearance from her junior year, and was the farthest the school had even gone in the state playoffs. That season the team won forty games for the first time as well.
Even with all her success on the court in High School, she displayed just as much brilliance in the classroom, graduating 10th in a class of 456. She also was involved in National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Key Club and Mu Alpha Theta.
After her decorated career in High School came to a close, she had to make a decision on where to play in college. She received offers from East Carolina and the University of Virginia, but she chose Mizzou because "it felt like a family, with all the athletic teams, not just the volleyball team", she explained. She has meshed quickly with her new teammates, saying they all have been very inviting. She also has developed a special sense of camaraderie with Katie O'Brien and Whitney Little, who are also from Texas. She remarked that the three of them all can joke about certain things the others can't.
So far she has enjoyed her experience at Mizzou, but she has seen how different the college game is very quickly. "The college game is faster paced and more deceptive--in High School it was easy to tell what play the opponent was running, but now it is much harder to tell as quickly" she explained.
She says the team's main goal is winning the SEC title this year, but for her personally, she says she seeks to contribute however the coaches ask, on the court, cheering the team on, however. She is a setter and defensive specialist, putting her on the back line helping with digs, and sometimes on the front line setting up the outside hitter. Setter Molly Kreklow, a two time Big 12 Honorable Mention and all SEC second team in 2012, is a senior this year, so Steinhardt has a chance to learn from one of the best this season and then display the same level of dominance she showed in High School next year.
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