Steinberg '15 remembered for positive, inclusive nature

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 3/12/14 5:41am

Family and friends called Steinberg positive, caring and driven.

Dressed in neon pink tights, a sequined shirt and a black cape, Blaine Steinberg ’15 sat in Dartmouth Broadcasting’s studio, describing her typical Sunday afternoon to the station’s general manager. Under the name D.J. Blizzle, Steinberg listed her daily routine: she would do CrossFit with her father and then watch her favorite sport of the season: football, hockey or baseball.

“She was laughing the entire time, sitting there in her flair,” said Kathryn MacNaughton ’15, Steinberg’s close friend and the station’s general manager. “That moment really epitomizes Blaine’s spirit — her love of sports, her love of family, of being with her friends.”

Family and friends remember Steinberg, who died last Friday after a sudden heart attack, for her positive demeanor and inclusive attitude. Her loved ones called her caring and driven. She built community wherever she went, and her competitive spirit drove her to work hard, with integrity.

Steinberg, 20, of Wynnewood, Pa., was a natural leader from an early age, said her father, Sid Steinberg. The captain of her high school’s soccer and lacrosse teams, Steinberg respected younger players, who “flocked to her,” he said. She was also a camp counselor and a member of student government.

Yet despite these commitments, Sid Steinberg, who would tuck a note into the lunch he packed for her daily, said his daughter prioritized time with friends and family.

Steinberg’s friends recalled how she kept in touch with those back home, and Taylor Magnuson ’15 said Steinberg’s friendship reminded her to value family ties.

“Family was so important to her,” she said. “They’re such strong people, just like Blaine.”

Over sophomore summer, Elizabeth Blackburn ’15 said she and Steinberg played tennis, and between rallies, they discussed their families.

“It seemed like the longest water break ever, but maybe that’s because it was so meaningful to me — that it feels way bigger,” Blackburn said. “We just sat and talked about our sisters and about how close we were with them.”

Steinberg was a “stop-and-talker,” said Felicia Wilkins ’15, Steinberg’s freshman floormate and a member of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Many students wave and ask “how are you” as they pass one another on campus, but Steinberg’s “presence would require you to stop,” Wilkins said.

Steinberg, who joined Kappa her sophomore winter, had a genuine, caring nature that touched the people around her, said Rachel Ofori ’14, the sorority’s president.

John Higgins ’14, a friend of Steinberg’s, agreed. “If you were with her in her presence,” he said, “you were just happier by nature, just from being around her.”

Wilkins said the song “Lean On Me,” by Bill Withers, reminds her of Steinberg. “She wanted to be that person for everyone,” she said.

After Torin Tucker '15 died in early February, Steinberg insisted on connecting with the people she cared about.

"She was talking about how you never know what's going to happen in life,” said Matt MacDowell '15, a friend who had lived on Steinberg’s freshman floor.

Friends and family said Steinberg threw herself into her activities.

An avid athlete and competitor, Steinberg played soccer and lacrosse in high school. A torn A.C.L. kept her off the soccer field her senior fall, yet she coached and cheered for the team at many games and scrimmages, said Ed Marks, her soccer coach and high school history teacher.

After the injury, "she was a lot sadder than she let on, but she channeled a lot of that into something so positive," said Joya Ahmad, a friend since middle school. “She could put the hard stuff behind her. Or, if not behind her, she could find a way to live with it and create a positive experience for other people."

Steinberg spent her adolescent summers at Camp Walden, a seven-week all-girls camp in southern Maine. She attended for seven years and became a counselor as soon as she could. Jill Steinberg, Blaine’s mother, went to Walden, as did her sister, Leigh.

Sheltered from outside pressures, the setting teaches campers responsibility for one another, said camp director Kathy Jonas.

At Walden, in this environment, Steinberg thrived.

“She came into herself, she blossomed into the amazing person that she came to be,” said Dani Chasin, who attended Walden with Steinberg. “She grew even stronger than she already was.”

Carrie Wolf ’15 met Steinberg at Walden, after their mothers — both Walden alumnae — introduced the girls. Though they lived states apart during the school year, the two “never let geography get in the way,” Wolf said. They wrote each other peer recommendations when applying to Dartmouth, and at the College, they spoke every day, rooming together during sophomore summer.

“She’s my day-to-day, she’s my go-to girl,” Wolf said. “There was this love and understanding and forgiveness that was so unique.”

Dartmouth, Steinberg’s father said, reminded her of camp in its spirit and emphasis on the outdoors.

After enrolling, she would yell out to tour groups, encouraging prospective students to attend, Florence Gonsalves '15, a close friend, said in an email.

Gonsalves is a member of The Dartmouth staff.

Steinberg was recruited to play lacrosse, but two concussions during her freshman fall left her unable to compete, said Jess Frieder ’15, who grew up with Steinberg and is a Dartmouth lacrosse goalie. Though she faced a difficult recovery and left the team her sophomore year, Steinberg found other ways to stay involved in athletics.

As sports director for Dartmouth Broadcasting, she coordinated radio broadcasts and hosted the Big Green Scene, a weekly half-hour sports talk show. Last year, she interviewed Julie Foudy, an Olympic gold medalist who played for the U.S. women’s soccer team. It was the highlight of her time at the studio, WFRD morning show host Chris Garrett said.

Last fall, Steinberg pursued her interest in sports reporting as an ESPN intern.

“It was her dream internship,” Magnuson said. “I’m so happy she was able to conquer that.”

Steinberg found time each day to watch sports news and complete her workout routine, calling her father after her workouts to compare notes, said Janine Leger ’15, who roomed with Steinberg last spring.

“There wasn't a question of her doing it,” Leger said. “She just did it effortlessly because that was what she was passionate about.”

Steinberg’s passion came across in academics, too. She was a conscientious student who threw herself into her favorite subjects, friends and teachers said.

In high school, "she was only ever late to class because she was coming from a workout or the training room, or helping someone, like helping a freshman getting their locker unstuck," Ahmad said.

Steinberg’s greatest impact at the William Penn Charter School, in Philadelphia, Ahmad said, came from her presence at student diversity club meetings. The only white student who attended, Steinberg shared an understanding of the way race and privilege impacted both her own experience and the experience of others, Ahmad said.

Steinberg was the type of student who draw faculty to Dartmouth, said history professor Edward Miller, who taught her in a Vietnam War course this winter.

Steinberg, who studied history and international relations, cared about learning for its own sake, Miller said. She participated in discussions enthusiastically and reached out to others outside of class.

Her father said Steinberg threw herself into everything she did with verve.

“The glass for her was not half-full,” he said. “The glass for her was overflowing all the time, and that’s something that we cherished about her.”

Last winter, Steinberg went on a Birthright trip to Israel through Dartmouth’s Chabad. She left with questions about her religion and was eager to learn more this spring by participating in Sinai Scholars, a national Jewish education program, at the College. Dartmouth’s spring Sinai Scholars program will be dedicated to her memory.

Steinberg took pride in being Jewish, said Frieder, who attended Rosh Hashanah dinners with her at Dartmouth.

Rabbi Moshe Gray met Steinberg when she began attending Shabbat dinners at Chabad. On the Birthright trip, they bonded over their love of CrossFit and sports. After discovering at a hotel in Jerusalem that the attached gym was for men only, Steinberg was undeterred and decided to instead exercise in the hallway. Gray, Steinberg and other trip members sprinted and did handstand push-ups in the hotel’s narrow halls, while other guests were “not really sure how to deal with this rabbi upside down,” Gray said, laughing.

Last Saturday, Gray hosted what he thought would be a small gathering of Birthright participants to honor and discuss Steinberg’s life, but students kept arriving. Around 60 people attended, he said, including former teammates and visiting friends from home.

Veronica Leonard ’14, who gathered about 100 of Steinberg’s friends on campus for a memorial service in the Hillel sanctuary Monday afternoon, remembered Steinberg’s ability to change a mood with a bright greeting or a smile from across the room.

“It took nothing,” Leonard said, “for her to change everyone’s lives.”

At Monday’s funeral in Wynnewood, approximately 1,200 people packed into Main Line Reform Temple. Her high school sent three buses full of students to the service, said Travis Larrabee, the director of Penn Charter’s upper school.

Before the funeral, Gonsalves met several of Steinberg’s camp friends. Gonsalves told Kristen Levy, a Walden friend, that she knew several Walden songs because Steinberg sang them so often.

Levy said she wasn’t surprised. “She was the type of person who brought her worlds together.”

Steinberg is a former member of The Dartmouth business staff. The College will hold a memorial in her honor this spring.