CHATHAM, NJ - Lisa Steward is a little nervous right now. She's putting together her art portfolio, proof of her credentials for college, where she plans to study architecture.
On the volleyball court there is no such worry, the Chatham High senior setter already has planned, designed and constructed a career that many consider to be top-notch work.
"She has a good head on her shoulders," Anna Amster, Chatham girls volleyball coach, said. "She's always ready to give it her all - always, always, always - whether she's sick, hurt or tired. You can always count on Lisa to show up, no matter what."
The numbers back up Amster's assessment. Since joining the varsity as a freshman four years ago, Steward has been remarkably consistent. So much so that she recently surpassed 1,000 assists in her career.
Lisa Steward is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
Amster saw something in Steward's skill and personality that made her put her on the varsity as a freshman.
"Normally, I wouldn't put a freshman on the varsity because they don't necessarily have the maturity level at that age," her coach said. "Lisa was the opposite. She came in and didn't let it get to her head. She was very humble and a big addition to the team."
The 5 foot, 3 inch Steward is closing out her senior year with some large numbers, which include 1,122 assists and counting. She also has 96 career aces and 293 digs. In 2016, she's performing at her highest level, with 366 assists for Chatham (14-7) through 21 matches, an average of more than 17 per outing. In addition, she's scored 32 service aces and produced 75 digs.
But Steward doesn't look at the statistics as personal accomplishments.
"It’s not really just about me," Steward said. "I can’t set unless someone on defense passes to me and I don’t get an assist unless someone gets a kill. I don’t think of it as 1,000 assists for me. It’s more like 1,000 assists for the team over the past four years. I only got an assist because of my team. It isn’t only just me."
Steward used to watch her older sister, Nina, play the game and she got the bug for the sport as a 7th grader when she began playing club ball.
"I really loved it," Steward said. "At that time, the practices were only two days a week. The day before, I'd say: 'Mom, tomorrow is practice, are you ready?" I was just so excited to play, I had to say it. I always reminded her the day before."
Steward likes the camaraderie that comes with volleyball. She really enjoys the team aspect and the fact that everyone is in it together.
"She is always someone you just look at on the court and it’s calming," Senior teammate Izze Omelczuk said. "She’s never frantic or nervous. She’s always sure of what she does. She doesn’t second-guess herself.
"Lisa is also really funny. She makes a lot of Parks and Recreation references and sings "L'il Sebastian' songs."
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.