Basketball was her first love and fitness came second. That was until her career as a Florida Gator ended. Now Steffi lives under the bar and pushes her body in unconventional ways!
How did your fitness journey begin?
The entire concept of bodybuilding is relatively foreign to me. The idea of athletics and fitness, however, is not. I've been a basketball player since age four. My mom had to sweet talk the camp counselor to sneak me in because the cut off age was five. Throughout my life, I traveled from tournament to tournament working on my basketball skills in hopes to play in college. I was a tall, gangly girl trying to compete with the best, and at times, felt out of place. But I was better than I thought.
After my senior year, I was named 2006 Miss Florida Basketball; a relatively prestigious award which typically results in big scholarship offers. But the phone calls for major universities never came and I was criticized for winning the award. I ended up playing for a Division-II school, and later a junior college. My dream was to be a Florida Gator, but it wasn't that easy. At 5-foot-10, 125 pounds, I wasn't exactly the prototype scouts salivate over. My junior college was located in the same town as the University of Florida (Gainesville) and I attended Gator games.
My uncle once met legendary University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt on an airplane. He explained he had a niece who played basketball and she should check me out. She signed and wrote a few sentences on Tennessee Volunteer letterhead telling me to always chase my dreams. I'll address that story of irony later. Florida ended up noticing me, but all they could offer was a position as a preferred walk-on and I gladly committed, knowing that I might never see game action. My coach forgot to put my name on the practice schedule during the first day of practice. The next day, coaches told me I would have a small role on the team. My belief remained intact and I knew, given the opportunity, that I was good enough to play.
I was put in during the first game of my junior year, and with the exception of that game, started every game for the next two years. I hit the go-ahead three-pointer to stop Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols from her 1,000th win on ESPN. That's the irony I can now smile about. These accomplishments showed me what self-empowerment can do for someone. I signed a pro contract to play in France following graduation.
Looking back at my collegiate career, I could barely bench 75 pounds for 12 reps during my freshman year. When basketball ended, I dedicated myself to lifting more frequently and eating cleaner. Now, I can proudly say I bench 135 pounds for 12 reps. I refuse to let others outwork me because I know how hard it is to achieve your goals and chase your dreams. Everyone has their own story. This is mine.