John's Journal: Sibling Soccer Coaches Honor Their Dad
St. Peter-Jordan Matchup Aims To Raise Funds And Awareness
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 3:06 PM
Saturday morning will be special when the girls and boys soccer teams from St. Peter and Jordan meet for a doubleheader in Jordan. The boys will play at 9 a.m., followed by the girls game at 11. The focus is on raising funds and awareness in the fight against cystic fibrosis.
The girls game is being lovingly called the Steele Bowl, since the two head coaches are siblings: Nate Steele coaches the Jordan girls and Breanna (Steele) Landsteiner is the St. Peter coach. Their dad, David, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 4 years old and was 43 when he died in 2007.
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 40,000 American children and adults are living with the disease. Cystic fibrosis can cause mucus in the lungs, clogging the airway and trapping bacteria, which can lead to infections, inflammation, respiratory failure and other complications. There is no cure.
Nate and Breaanna will be thinking of their dad on Saturday.
“To represent his legacy and his lasting impact on my brother and I, we wanted to make this more than a rivalry, but a coming together of two programs to do our part in fighting Cystic Fibrosis and honor someone who would love nothing more than seeing us coach against each other,” Breanna wrote in a social media post about the game.
Breanna, 29, is a third-grade teacher who’s in her seventh year as the head coach at St. Peter. Nate, 27, who teaches middle school math, moved from assistant to head coach midway through the season a year ago when the previous head coach resigned. Breanna played soccer at Eagan High School and Minnesota State Mankato; Nate was a high school athlete but didn’t play soccer.
“She has an X’s and O’s advantage, that’s for sure,” Nate said with a laugh. “My advantage is I think I can rally the team.”
When Nate was hired as a teacher in Jordan in 2019, he accepted an offer to coach the boys soccer C team.
“I knew enough about the game to manage at that level,” he said. “I love learning the game. I’ve been around Bre forever and watched her play high school and college soccer.”
Saturday’s girls game will involve much more than soccer, of course. The sibling coaches have been working to educate their players and others about cystic fibrosis.
“With the kids, I would say the awareness level is very low,” Breanna said. “I had to kind of tell them why we were doing this and share the story with our teams.”
The idea to use the Steele Bowl as a fundraiser came from the coaches’ mom, Tamie. She and David both grew up in the northeast corner of Iowa, and David played baseball for one of that state’s premier programs at Kee High School in Lansing.
The girls soccer teams from St. Peter (6-1) and Jordan (3-4-1) are both in Class 2A Section 2 so Saturday’s outcome could have implications on postseason seeding.
“St. Peter has a few more wins than us,” Nate said. “I think this will show us if we’re at their level, if we’re above it or if there’s work to do.”
As part of the fundraising efforts, t-shirts marking the event are being sold. Anyone wearing a shirt or buying a shirt at the gate will receive free admission and players will wear the shirts during warm-ups. Proceeds from the shirt sales will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Anyone not interested in purchasing a shirt but willing to donate can write a check to Saint Peter or Jordan High School.
There also will be an auction of sports memorabilia and other items, including a signed jersey from former NFL quarterback and current TV personality Boomer Esiason, whose son Gunnar lives with cystic fibrosis. Auction items have also been received from the Minnesota Wild, Minnesota United and others.
“Growing up, I guess I didn’t think we were very different,” Breanna said when asked about how her dad’s condition affected her. “All I thought was different was he had a huge machine, a vibrating machine on his vest. He had to do that three times a day if I remember correctly.”
David received a double lung transplant in 2004. After that, “he started doing everything he wanted to do,” Breanna said. “He took long bike rides, lifted weights, everything he wanted to do.”
As she wrote in the social media post, “Unfortunately, this surgery was not 100% successful, and two years later he would spend the better part of a year in and out of the hospital. On July 14th, 2007, David Howard Steele Jr. passed away.
“From witnessing years of fighting, countless treatments and hardships, our dad’s strength and resolve never wavered. In a note to my brother and I before a high-stakes surgery, he wrote, ‘I’m not leaving them yet.’ ”
He’s still with them.
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org