The change in venue wasn’t the one originally planned for Rachel Steinbarger.
An assistant women’s basketball coach at Franklin College, she was set to become the assistant women’s basketball coach at Lake Forest College near Chicago when she received a text that would lead to an alteration of her plans.
A big alteration.
Steve Brooks, who had coached Steinbarger at Indiana Wesleyan, asked her if she’d be interested in the head coaching job at Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania. Steinbarger, 24, had never heard of the school and thought she was too young, but she agreed to a phone interview.
Midway through the phone interview, Lancaster athletics director Peter Beers invited her to campus for a visit.
A day after flying back from the visit, Beers called and offered Steinbarger the job.
“It’s kind of ironic,” Steinbarger said. “I never thought at the age of 24 I could be a head coach. But I feel like God put this in my life for a reason. You don’t hear of this happening, where you get called, and a week later, you have the job. There was something about Lancaster that just fit.”
Lancaster Bible College is an NCAA Division III school, just like Franklin College, where Steinbarger has been an assistant the past two years. Prior to her four years at Indiana Wesleyan, she played for Debbie Marr at Columbus North.
“Debbie really invested in me,” said Steinbarger, who started going to open gyms when she was in fourth grade. “She still plays a role in my life as a positive role model.”
Steinbarger, a Columbus native, takes a positive approach with the players she coaches.
“I’m not going to sit and berate a kid,” Steinbarger said. “You’re going to get positivity. My ultimate goal is to invest in kids and teach them life lessons because that’s what my coaches did.”
“She has a real passion for the sport,” Brooks said. “I think she has a real interest in the kids helping not only their athletic abilities, but their academic abilities, and she’s in tune with the spiritual aspect, as well. I think she’s a great fit for Lancaster Bible College.”
Knowing Steinbarger wanted to become a coach, Brooks helped prepare her for the profession while she was in school. He had her work on some recruiting matters and lead individual workouts with players in the offseason.
Indiana Wesleyan went 115-26 in Steinbarger’s four years as a starting guard, reaching the NAIA Final Four her sophomore year and the Elite Eight her final two years.
Her senior year, Steinbarger won the NAIA Tournament’s Champions of Character Award, which goes to a player who has displayed “exemplary character and sportsmanship on the field, on campus and in the community that exemplify the core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and student leadership,” according to the NAIA website.
“Rachel was kind of the quiet leader in some regards,” Brooks said. “She’s a cerebral player. She picks things up very quickly. She was an example to her teammates through her work ethic. She worked extremely hard and was always one of our hardest workers.”
“From a program perspective, Rachel had a great coach-player relationship,” Beers said in a news release. “She saw how a program could play at a high level, and yet the team be challenged to be ladies of purpose and purity at the same time. Rachel will forever be grateful for her experience at Indiana Wesleyan, and I look forward to seeing this investment replicated into our program.”
Steinbarger, who has been in Columbus for most of the summer, moved to Lancaster last week. At Franklin College, she served two seasons under former head coach Jennifer Temple, who resigned at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Franklin College recently hired Dana Haggenjos as its new head coach.
“I’m excited for (Steinbarger),” Brooks said. “I think this is something that she’s prepared for, and her preparation started before she was in college. She knew she wanted to be a basketball coach.”