Athletics have always been a major part of Nancy Steinbach Haack's life. Whether competing, coaching or encouraging, her love of sport has never wavered.
A 1969 Linfield graduate, Haack's athletic career began when she was six years old. Her father, Tye Steinbach, was Nancy's first coach and inspiration. His life was dedicated to coaching young swimmers at the Aero Club of Portland and the McMinnville Swim Club. Swimming for her father was one of Nancy's greatest joys. She loved his spirit, enthusiasm and his love for his athletes.
Nancy, and her older sister, Kathy Steinbach Washburn (attended Linfield-Class of 1968, graduated from OSU), swam AAU age-group competitions for Wilson High School in Portland, maintaining a four-year state-title winning streak. At Linfield, they competed in swimming for Coach Ken Holmes, Linfield history professor, who praised the Steinbach sisters for their recruiting and encouragement of others. At Linfield, the sisters broke several collegiate national records. Nancy established records in the 40 freestyle (1966,1967), 40 butterfly (1967), 100 freestyle (1966), and 160 individual medley (1966).
Reluctantly, Haack turned out for the Wildcat field hockey team. But reluctance soon gave way to excitement when the first game started. During the first match, she was moved from defender, to halfback, to center forward, and then stayed there for four seasons. "I just had to be where you could score and win the game," she said.
For three seasons she was selected all-conference and led the team in scoring. In track and field, Haack placed in the district meet for all four seasons in the 100, 220, long jump and shot put.
Ken Williams, college registrar emeritus and Linfield Hall of Fame member, says Haack's "excellence in academics, athletics and leadership at the college earned her a place in the Hall." Her involvement included: Dean's List, Cap and Gown, Spurs, Associated Women Students' Vice President, Intersorority Council Vice President, Judicial Board Chairman, Senior Class Secretary, and Rally. She received recognition as Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities and Outstanding College Athletes in America, 1969.
"My years at Linfield were such a positive stage in my life, as the opportunities for personal growth were limitless. It was the time when education and sense of purpose became intertwined with personal values. It was a time when lasting friendships were established and memories were made," said Haack.
After Linfield, Haack's athletic spark was rekindled when she competed in triathlons for seven years during the 1980s, winning many honors: Northwest Master's Champion, age-group winner in the United States Triathlon for two years, undefeated in age-group competition and consistently placing in the top five overall. "Triathlons exposed me to the mental aspect of competition. All of my events, up until triathlons, had been sprints where you hardly had time to think; with triathlons, which last over two hours, you need to be able to use your mind to control your race. I found that my strongest athletic asset was my mental toughness," she said.
Haack has coached various sports over the years including swimming, diving, gymnastics, cross-country and track and field. During the past five years, she has taught physical education, health and aerobics at Century High School in Hillsboro. Named to the 2002 Who's Who Among American Teachers, she retired from teaching in June of 2002, but her students say Haack will redefine the word "retirement," as she has too much energy.
Nancy has other Wildcat sport connections. Her husband, Bob, (1965-69), and son, Ryan (1992-95), both received all-conference honors in football and competed in the national finals. Daughter, Shannon, competed in track at Occidental College in Los Angeles and ran on a national championship relay team.
Nancy and Bob moved to Beaverton to be closer to their three granddaughters. Bob, a retired Oregon National Guard colonel, teaches at Forest Grove High School. Nancy will be instructing and encouraging the next generation of athletes as a "nanny" for her one-year-old granddaughter.