Those who love tennis understand that the game is complex and strategic; it can, when played over lifetime, lead an aficionado of the sport in unexpected directions.
For Norfolk Academy Trustee Samuel E. Steingold ’85, who is stepping into the role of Chairman of the Academy Fund, tennis has been a pathway to many things, including his passionate commitment to volunteering for the school.
Steingold has been volunteering as a coach for the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams for eleven years, ever since his son, Max, now a junior, enrolled in first grade. Both Steingold and Associate Athletic Director Chad Byler vividly remember the moment that paved the route to ever-accelerating volunteerism. Byler recalls, “I said to him, ‘You’d be great with the kids. Would you ever think about helping us out by coaching?’ He said ‘yes,’ and he has never looked back since. He doesn’t miss a day; he really enjoys it.”
For his part, Steingold notes, “I enjoy helping out in whatever way the program needs...I like to lead by example and get involved.”
Once Steingold embarked on coaching tennis, it wasn’t long before he jumped into more volunteering. He started on the Parent Advisory Council as a first grade representative, and then served as parent grade captain for annual giving. “I vividly remember using landlines, set up in the rowing room, to dial fellow first grade parents, to introduce them to the concept of philanthropic giving to the institution.”
His involvement as a parent increased when his daughter, Rose ’20, came to the Lower School, and he continued to expand his activity as a volunteer, with fundraising for the school at the forefront. Three years ago, he became involved in leadership giving, and a year after that, he served as co-chair of the leadership giving portion of the Academy Fund with Kay Stockwell ’85.
He has served on the executive committee of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and he joined the Board of Trustees this past July. He said that he is fortunate to have a professional life that gives him flexibility; he works as a commercial real estate investor in his family’s business, and he is able to devote a great deal of time to volunteering. “Connections with people tend to enrich the experience you have in pursuing an activity,” he said. “I enjoy connecting with people and further connecting them with the school’s philosophy and objectives.”
In particular, he appreciates the way that Norfolk Academy offers a well-rounded educational experience through challenging and exciting academics, abundant extracurriculars, and a strong commitment to the arts and athletics. The Academy Fund is crucial to the enriched learning environment that Norfolk Academy offers, and he wants everyone to understand its importance. “100% of the annual giving funds being used in the same school year demonstrates the school’s decision to create as many opportunities for our children as possible,” he said.
Even as he expanded his volunteer roles at Norfolk Academy, he continued to volunteer in the community. He is a board member and past president of Virginia Beach CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates); the nonprofit recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers dedicated to advocating for abused and neglected children who are currently involved in court proceedings. This spring, he won the Best of Board award from Volunteer Hampton Roads, and was recognized at the Hampton Roads Volunteer Achievement Awards ceremony. He is also on the board of the Princess Anne Country Club, and he is philanthropically active with Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
Through all of this, his coaching duties have stayed rock steady, an anchor in his schedule. In many ways, the coaching reconnects him to his youth, when he spent countless hours on courts in his Algonquin Park neighborhood and at the Tidewater Tennis Center, one of the region’s first indoor tennis centers, which his father opened on Lance Road in Norfolk. He played on the Norfolk Academy team and continued playing recreationally during college at The University of Virginia and even in the chill winds of Chicago, where he earned his MBA from The University of Illinois.
This year, he served as the head coach for JV Girls’ Tennis in the fall season, then returned to the courts this spring as assistant coach for Boys’ Varsity Tennis. His passion for the game is evident in the quiet intensity he brings to practices and to match play; he also has the opportunity to watch Max, a co-captain of the team, continue the Steingold family’s passion for tennis. Rose, a three-sport athlete, plays field hockey, basketball, and soccer.
“Sam has a great demeanor around the kids, and he’s a really great teacher of the game,” Associate Athletic Director Byler said. “In addition, as a parent and an alumnus, he understands us and our community and culture.”
For Steingold, it is a case of leading by example; he hopes to inspire others to step up and volunteer. “Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes,” he observes. “If anyone wants to become a volunteer, there’s room for them to be involved in the character formation of our children.”