Courtney Steding takes the long road to Behrend
Photo By: Allegheny College Athletics
Nate Steis, Staff Writer
One of the most highly utilized services at Behrend is the Academic and Career Planning Center. The employees of the ACPC continue to help students schedule the right classes, find internships, and secure full time employment. While each and every employee in the ACPC deserves recognition, there is one employee who has taken quite a unique path to Penn State Behrend.
Typically, these stories feature current athletes of Penn State Behrend. However, this story is special, as it features someone who only recently came to Behrend, and did not participate in Behrend athletics. Courtney Steding chose Allegheny over Penn State Behrend to continue her academic and athletic career over other schools like Bucknell, Washington and Jefferson, Niagara, and Point Park, and her counseling career has led her back here.
Steding grew up in McDonald, Pennsylvania, a town with a population just south of 2,000. She began her athletic career in the second grade, when she began to swim and play softball. In fifth grade, she had her first opportunity to play basketball. “I was honestly horrible,” Steding said with a chuckle. “In fact, I was so bad that everyone on our team got a ribbon during a basketball skills camp except for me. The coaches felt so bad that they had the team race and I won that to get a ribbon.” While Steding may not have been a great basketball player as a fifth grader, she became a sought after recruit less than a decade later.
Heading into middle school, Steding had to decide whether she wanted to dominate the pool or the hardwood. She picked basketball, but does wonder how it would be different if she picked swimming. Despite this, Steding believes she made the right decision, without question.
As a freshman at Fort Cherry High School, college coaches began to notice her skill, potential to guard any position on the court, and her ability to get to the free throw line. She was not keen on the idea of playing college hoops as a teenager, and turned coaches away for nearly three years of high school. However, as her junior season ended, she realized that basketball was not something she was willing to give up anytime soon.
Steding began to open up to the idea of being a college basketball player, but it would not be without weighing her educational options first. “I knew I wanted to study psychology and help people for a living. I thought being a clinical psychologist was my future, but my degree in psychology led me to becoming a counselor,” she stated of her pursuits.
After some college visits, Steding knew Allegheny was the most logical place to study psychology, while also making an impact on the hardwood. Steding used a ranking system on her visits to help her rank each school in many different categories, and this ranking system helped her determine Allegheny was the best place for her to further her education and continue her basketball career.
After graduating from Fort Cherry, where she led the Rangers to their first three WPIAL girls basketball playoff appearances in school history and scored 1,697 points, the most of any Ranger in history, Steding headed to Meadville to begin her career for the Gators. Here, she prided herself on being the toughest player on the court. She played the game extremely hard and did a lot of the little things that helped the the Gators succeed. “I guarded the opposing teams post players that were often a lot taller than me,” Steding explained. “I surely was not going to let them use that height to their advantage easily. I was going to try to be a pest and outwork them and not let them score much. It was a role I embraced and truly loved.”
Steding loved the Chicago Bulls growing up, and it makes sense that she looked up to Michael Jordan, who was not a great player when he first began to play basketball, much like her. She also embraced a role at Allegheny much like former NBA tough man Dennis Rodman did for the Bad Boy Pistons and 90s Chicago Bulls.
While nobody messed with Steding on the court, off the court, she is one of the kindest people at Behrend. She has made a significant difference in hundreds of young people’s lives in her time at the Behrend ACPC, and this number continues to increase by the day, as Steding serves as a counselor and a professor.
Steding continually builds on her education, which includes a degree in psychology from Allegheny, a Masters in school counseling from Edinboro and a master certificate from Penn State in organizational development and change. In addition, Steding was recently named a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. “I am highly motivated to find new topics to learn and study,” Steding stated. She also serves on the Steering Committee for Erie Women’s Fund as well as in the Athena Circle of Trust for emerging business women in Erie.
Steding has also given back to the game of basketball, previously coaching an AAU and catholic elementary girls program in Erie for a few seasons. She has taken some time off from coaching youth basketball, but she is hopeful to one day return to the sidelines.
Whether it is on the court, in the classroom, or in the community, Steding has made a great deal of difference in every endeavor she has embarked on. Anyone who has ever worked with, played with, or even just spoken to her understand the type of work ethic and passion she has to help others live better lives. She has and continues to make the campus of Penn State Behrend a better place.