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Former Solanco High School student-athlete says fitness-based structure helps achieve goals

Lori Steigerwald 3

Lori Steigerwald is a former standout student-athlete from Solanco High School who now works for ESPN. 

A former standout student-athlete, Lori Steigerwald says she still remembers some lessons she learned from sports.

“Teamwork, commitment, hard work, dealing with different personalities. ... The list goes on,” she says. “I think it’s been a great setup for me in my career and in adulthood.”

Steigerwald, whose maiden name is Houck, is a 1996 Solanco High School graduate who earned 12 varsity letters in basketball, field hockey, and track and field.

During her senior year of high school she was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Intelligencer Journal and Lancaster New Era, both forerunners to LNP.

Steigerwald went on to play basketball at Bucknell University, where she was a four-year starter and led her team to the league championship game.

Steigerwald also earned an accounting degree at Bucknell, which led her to a job with General Electric and then to ESPN, where she is now director of finance.

Steigerwald, who spent years living and working in Manhattan, where she earned an MBA from Fordham University, has since returned to Lancaster County, where she lives just south of the city with her husband and two young children.

The 41-year-old Steigerwald now works for ESPN from a home office. She also recently joined the board of Bench Mark Program, a nonprofit mentoring program built around weightlifting.

“It’s like a fitness-based structure for kids that maybe need something to commit to, to give them time to focus, and have a goal they can achieve — not to mention health benefits,” she says.

Doing the hard work

LoriHouck 1996 new Era athlete photo.jpg

A 1996 photo of Lori Houck when she was named "Female Athlete of the Year" by the Lancaster New Era. 

During high school, Steigerwald says a commitment to lifting weights was a part of the key to her success on the playing field.

“I’m lucky that I had my coach that directed me. I wouldn’t say I’m overly gifted; I just kind of worked really hard at it, and that was a game changer,” she says.

Steigerwald recalls former Solanco track coach Art Harrington meeting her in the weight room before school in the morning, establishing a fitness habit that served her well at the next level.

“A lot of the girls, when I went to college, never lifted, or never seriously. And it was like night and day as far as where I was and where they were,” she says.

Steigerweld draws parallels between her commitment to athletic success which manifested in the weight room and the kind of dedication to unglamorous work it sometimes takes to succeed in other parts of life.

It’s a lesson Steigerwald tries to impart to young people in the Bench Mark Program. It also was part of her message to the 2010 graduating class at Solanco High School, where she was the invited speaker.

“Take on a passion or idea, something you really believe in and run with it. Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion; you must light yourself on fire,” Houck Steigerwald told the graduating class.

Sports networking

For ESPN, Steigerwald helps with budgeting and financial forecasting as well as analyzing various growth strategies for the company.

As a former scholastic athlete who has continued to be involved in sports, the position has been ideal.

“Being now a part of ESPN, it’s to my core. It’s who I am,” she says. “I just have an appreciation for what we do; I feel like I can connect to it.”

Steigerwald found her way to the media company after spending four years in a financial management program with General Electric that had her moving from city to city.

After getting married, Steigerwald moved back to Lancaster County to be near her family and parents, who live in Quarryville.

As a former Manhattanite, Steigerwald says she was pleasantly surprised to find vibrancy in a city she rarely visited when she lived nearby.

“I never knew Lancaster (city) growing up. I was never in Lancaster,” she says. “It’s such a great city, it really is. It’s a college town, it’s creative, alternative, artsy. It’s surrounded by farmland and tradition.”

While she has had success working for the premier cable sports network in the county where she is still remembered by some as a sports star, Steigerwald said athletics also taught her how to deal with the inevitable setbacks.

“I’ve had my failures in that, too, which I think, regardless of what level you make in sports, you’ll have,” she says.