In the first episode of our new Youtube series, the Timeless Talent, we hosted team USA team captain and the best player of the 21st century so far – Maggie Steffens! In this text, you can find some interesting details we covered with Maggie and you can watch the whole interview in the embedded video.
What did you like the most when you were first starting playing water polo?
I started playing U-18 competitions when I was eight, so I got really comfortable with just going up against a guy 10 years older than me, three times my size, 80 times my strength and way smarter. Even if I didn’t know I could win, I started to love the idea of the challenge. I would get torn underwater and they would kick off me and go on a counter-attack and I was like a little puppy dog… That was so fun. I realized you can have so many challenges in water polo, but the game keeps going. And that’s something I really, really enjoyed.
You ended up at Stanford even though you have family connections with Cal Berkley. How did that happen?
My father and my uncles used to play for Cal Berkley, so growing up, I always went to Cal water polo games. And for those who don’t know, Cal and Stanford are total rivals. So I grew up, hating Stanford and only thinking I’ll go to Cal 🙂 But Jess, my oldest sister, was the first one ever to say: “I’m going to try this whole rival Stanford thing.” And the second I saw the Stanford campus and heard her experiences at Stanford, I knew that was the right place for me. So, we’re a “split” family. Both my parents went to Cal, my two other siblings went to Cal, and me and Jess went to Stanford. It can get a bit heated on football game days and stuff like that, but it’s fun.
Can you share how did you feel when you were invited to play in the national team for the first time?
When I was 15, I got invited to play on the senior B team in Canada, at the Canada cup in 2009. Lauren Wenger and Betsy Armstrong were there. So Olympians, and I was just in awe and, so inspired by them. After that trip, I got a call from Adam Krikorian and he invited me, Melissa Seidemann and Kiley Neushul and said that he would like us to also play in the senior national team tournament next week in Southern California(Holiday cup). And I was like: “Me? You want ME to come? Are you sure you got the right Maggie Steffens?
And I was just so excited, but also so nervous. After the 2008 Olympic games where I got to watch my sister play, I was just craving to share that experience. And that dream kind of came true.
What does it mean for you to be a team captain?
It’s definitely a huge, huge, huge honor. And it’s a very humbling honor because if you look at our team, not just current but past. We have some of the best players out there to ever play the game and some of the best leaders. And I think that’s something that’s really special about our team and the USA culture is, I’m not the captain and doing all of these things. That is just a part of my role, right? And just like the people I play with Melissa Seidemann, Ashleigh Johnson, Rachel Fatal, Maddie Musselman, the Fisher sisters… all of them are leaders. All of them are captains as well in their own roles.
Being captain is really easy on this team because I have a bunch of captains around me.
You won everything in your career, what motivates you to go forward?
I get asked that a lot and I think something that gets it across really well is just because I’ve accomplished something or just because I’ve lived out that dream doesn’t mean I still don’t have it. I still have the Olympic dream and I still have the dream of representing my country and being the best I can and helping our team be the best we can be. So that dream, that Olympic dream, it still lives on. That’s a huge motivator to me. And then two other things I would say is my family and my team. That is my biggest value.
How would you describe Maggie Steffens in three words?
Family, team and dreamer.
Watch the whole interview and find out more on Maggie’s first water polo steps, European experiences and life philosophy.