Steve Hillenbrand's contributions to Rutgers extend well beyond the lacrosse field
Steve Hillenbrand does just about everything for Rutgers University.
The senior defender who plays on the man-down unit for the men’s lacrosse team is much more than a lacrosse player.
A standout student, Hillenbrand boasts a 3.85 GPA while majoring in finance at the Rutgers Business School and already has a job lined up with Bank of America when he graduates.
He is a leader within the community, making appearances at nearby hospitals and elementary schools.
Hillenbrand is also the vice president of the Rutgers Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), where he heads the Community Service Committee and has been a member of the organization all four of his years on the Banks.
"The committee does a phenomenal job providing student athletes with community service opportunities within our own community around Rutgers," he said. "It gives us a lot of opportunities to give back to the community that does so much for us."
He is also a multi-year volunteer at the Rutgers Recreation Department’s “Special Friends Day,” where he spent a day participating in activities alongside people with intellectual disabilities.
“It's so rewarding to come out here and get to know a kid throughout the course of the day and have some fun,” Hillenbrand said at "Special Friends Day" in March 2017. “It really gives you a different perspective, helps you to appreciate them more, and definitely opens your eyes to a whole new experience. I'm really happy I've come back this year and I'll definitely be back next year too.”
Hillenbrand said that being a leader in the community and classroom is something he has always taken pride in, but it is also something that extends beyond just him on the team.
"I think coach (Brian) Brecht does a fantastic job at this — coaches are looking more and more to recruit high-character athletes ... (who) take pride in their academics, take pride in community service. That's something that I personally take a lot of pride in," he said.
On the field, Hillenbrand has developed into a key defender for the Knights. After playing a combined six games in his first three years, Hillenbrand has played in all 10 contests this season as a member of the man-down defensive unit and recorded a ground ball against Princeton.
During his four years at Rutgers, Hillenbrand said that the Knights have been able to become a top-10 team due to the culture.
"The biggest thing is culture. We have a really mature senior class and a senior class that embraces whatever role that they have on our team," he said. "I think that's one thing that's impacted the culture of this team tremendously."
Coming in as freshmen, the current senior class had a lot to get accustomed to. But once they all figured out their roles and committed to them, things started coming together.
Hillenbrand is 1 of 14 seniors that was honored prior to Sunday's game against No. 18 Michigan, where he suited up at High Point Solutions Stadium for one of the last times in his career.
“He’s a star in the Rutgers School of Business ... He’s been a leader for us on the community service front," said Brecht. "He’s certainly been a great asset to not only our program and mentoring the guys in the locker room, but I think he’s been a great asset for Rutgers Athletics in the local community."