When her telephone rings at 4 a.m., Sarah Steinmann isn't thrilled. Who would be?
Yet the 24-year-old wakes up, takes the call and goes back to sleep thankful. Her job at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School often means phone calls at odd hours, but she expresses nothing but gratitude to a school that has allowed her to balance a teaching and coaching career with her aspirations in professional soccer.
During the school year, Steinmann organizes the substitute teachers at Holy Innocents' and also fills in as a substitute herself for three or four classes a day. She also is the school's head girls soccer coach and is active in its Fellowship of Christian Athletes club.
In between, the Providence Christian grad has time to lift weights and train for soccer.
"I would love to teach history at some point," said Steinmann, a forward for the Atlanta Silverbacks women's team. "But right now I can't balance teaching full-time and playing. But when I'm done playing soccer, I'd love to teach.
"I can't really tell you how accommodating and supportive they've been at Holy Innocents'. They're really supportive of my soccer and understanding of what I do."
Steinmann has even recruited Silverback teammates such as Julie Augustyniak and Krista Davey for jobs at Holy Innocents'. During their free periods, the trio lift weights together.
Augustyniak also helps Steinmann in her other role as the Golden Bears' girls soccer coach. The pair's spring was pretty busy with work at school, weightlifting in the off period, high school practice and then their personal workout sessions. On Thursdays, Steinmann trained with the Silverbacks' men's reserve team and also spent three weeks this spring in New Zealand after receiving a scholarship from the school to extend her classroom skills by studying abroad - her project was aiding research with dusky dolphins.
Despite the trip, she only missed one Holy Innocents' game.
"I didn't know I'd enjoy (coaching) as much as I have," Steinmann said. "I didn't know how much I'd enjoy being a part of their lives and helping them go through the same things that I've gone through, being able to relate to them that way. And just seeing them progress, that is probably the coolest part."
Steinmann's team fared well this past spring, going 10-6 and finishing at No. 6 in the Class AA/A state rankings. Holy Innocents' season ended in the second round with a tough 3-2 defeat against of all teams, Providence.
Providence went on to win the state championship.
"It was a little strange, but not too bad," Steinmann said of losing to her alma mater. "I wanted to win but I was so, so proud of (Providence). My heart's at Providence. I love that place. I'm thankful for all they did for me there."
While her long-term goals include teaching, Steinmann is focusing on playing soccer in the short term. She has talked with professional teams in Denmark and Germany, but decided the best way to improve her game is against the top players in the U.S.
Right now those players compete in the W-League (where the Silverbacks play), but hopes are for a relaunch of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) as early as 2008. WUSA was home to well-known players like Mia Hamm and it included some of Steinmann's current Silverback teammates, who played for the currently defunct league's Atlanta Beat.
"I'd love to play professional soccer when the (WUSA) returns," Steinmann said. "Right now it's just a matter of time. It looks set for (a return in) 2008, but nothing's official. Sometimes it's hard to keep your game in good shape waiting (for the return), but it's my goal and my passion."
Steinmann plans to continue working toward that goal. In addition to the Silverbacks, she trains once or twice a week with Jacenir Silva, a former pro player in Brazil who has worked with her since high school.
She also plans to stay busy by working a few soccer camps this summer at Auburn, where she played in college, and expects to coach club soccer at Top Hat in the fall.
But her main focus this summer is her W-League team.
"I'm so appreciative of the Silverbacks," Steinmann said. "A lot of girls on the team have dreams of pro soccer and this gives us an opportunity to play at such a high level and to be as prepared as we should be (when the WUSA returns)."