During monster season, Steinauer sustains a team-first mentality
Hunter O. Lyle—Sports Editor
In the midst of a break out year filled with records, honors and accolades, junior forward Kiana Steinauer is completely focused on playing team basketball.
This season, along with having three 30 point games so far and averaging 18 points and 15 rebounds a game, Steinauer became the became the first female athlete in NE10 history to collect 400 points and 400 rebounds in a single season. She also became the first player to record a 30-30 game – against Concordia College on December 19 – in NE10 and Southern athletics history.
Yet, Steinauer said while she appreciates the all awards she has racked up over the years, the team will always come first.
“It’s a nice accomplishment. It’s cool, for me and for the team just to see the recognition,” said Steinauer. “I’m just doing whatever I can to win. It’s all about the team.”
Born in Seattle, Washington to two collegiate athletics stars and raised in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Steinauer said she started playing in fifth grade and knew she wanted to play in the United States like her mother.
“Honestly, I wanted to come to the States. That was a goal of mine to come here on a scholarship,” said Steinauer.
“Schools in Canada are great too, but I just wanted to play in the NCAA and Southern felt like a great fit. Coaches are really nice, team was really welcoming.”
The coaches at Southern first spotted Steinauer, almost by luck, at a 70-court basketball convention in Washington D.C. and almost immediately knew that she would be a good fit for the team.
“I was at some other court and [Assistant Coach Hiriak] texted me and said, ‘hey, why don’t you come to court whatever.’ So, I walked by and, we just happened to walk by her, is really what it was,” said Head Coach Kate Lynch. “We basically saw her rebound the basketball and take it 94 feet and score it the other way, and we kind of just looked at each other like ‘we have to recruit this lady.’”
Since arriving at Southern, Steinauer made 18 out of 29 starts in her first season, and became a starter in her sophomore year, averaging a double-double in points and rebounds.
“It’s almost a thing of what doesn’t she bring to the team. Obviously, I mean she’s leading the country in rebounding since day one of this year, and now she’s leading our team in scoring as well,” said Lynch. “With Jess [Fressle] going down with an injury, at that point she was our leading scorer, again we asked Kiana to step up and do more than rebounding, and she’s answered that call and done more.”
Most recently, Steinauer showcased her skills in a win-or-go-home game against Pace University for their last game of the season, where she sealed the game with nine points and two steals in overtime to not only grab the win, but a playoff berth for the Owls as well.
Senior guard Amanda Pfohl said seeing Steinauer’s development over three years has impressed her and it can only get better as she goes on.
“She’s a better basketball player than she’s ever been, that I’ve seen her, and I know it’s going to get increasingly better, which is awesome to see her as a player, but also as a teammate,” said Pfohl. “I think she has more confidence in herself from now than from freshman year. I mean, she’s already proven to do things more than anyone in the history of the school has, and I think that’s going to continue next year as well.”
Even throughout her remarkable time at Southern, Steinauer said she still believes that she can always improve her game and make more of a positive impact for the team.
“There’s always room for improvement. I think that you should never settle, there’s always something more you can do, there’s always something more the team can do,” said Steinauer. “There’s always more to give, more to learn, and it’s just great to learn throughout the years on what you can improve on, and what you can learn from other players or what their intake is on stuff.”
Photo Credit: William Aliou