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inducted February 18, 2006

Five hundred.

When we were young, it represented more money than we could even imagine. If we played baseball or softball, it was equally inconceivable as a batting average.

It was just as inconceivable for decades as a cumulative score for a diver. Four hundreds, yes. But to hit the 500 mark, well, few dared dream of that.

Then came that day in 1977 when Christina "Tina" Steck, representing Barnard College, climbed the ladder to begin the three-meter dive competition in the Eastern Women’s Swimming League meet, forerunner of today’s Ivy Championships. Tina dived that day as no Barnard diver had ever done.

She won the three-meter title with a score of 507.45, a score so high that no one scored 500 or better in the meet for 22 years, until Erin Lutz registered 532.60 for Princeton in 1999.

Steck also won the meet title in 1977, making All-Ivy League both years, won the 1978 Eastern championship, and was a Division I All-American. Undefeated in college dual-meet competition, she is still remembered through the Tina Steck Award, originally established by her alma mater and now presented at the Varsity C Awards Dinner awarded to the women’s swimming and diving team member who has the strongest impact on the success of her team. 

Prior to entering Barnard, she was a Prep School All-American for two years and a YMCA National Champion. She has been inducted into her prep school’s (Newark Academy) hall of fame with her brother, Paul, an All-American and four-time Eastern diving champion for Cornell.

Following her 1980 graduation from Barnard, magna cum laude, Steck attended George Washington U. Law School (where she met her future husband, Steve Young) and worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan for several years. She then became a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, both in the Civil Division on environmental defense litigation and the Natural Resources Division as a prosecutor in environmental crimes cases.

Following her family’s 1995 move to Los Angeles, she was a litigation lawyer for two years. In 1997, she left the practice of law to concentrate on her family.

Tina lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif., with her husband, Steve, and their sons, Spencer, 14, and Tyler, 11. She stays active as a volunteer at her sons’ school, with their youth sports teams, and with local charity groups.

Looking back on her days on Morningside Heights, Steck still appreciates belonging, as she says, to both the Barnard and Columbia communities.

“I was as student of Barnard, a member of the Barnard swim team, yet I trained with the Columbia diving coach and the Columbia diving team and felt a part of the Columbia athletics program, even before the athletic consortium.”

Incidentally, Tina will be the second member of her family to enter an Ivy League athletics hall of fame. Her brother, Paul, has been inducted into Cornell’s hall.