Lisa Bluder’s six seasons at St. Ambrose paved the way for future success

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:06 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Before he became an award-winning sportswriter in the Quad Cities, Steve Tappa was an aspiring journalist attending St. Ambrose. In 1989, he did a report on Lisa Bluder for the St. Ambrose student television station.

“It was such a wonderful time as a journalist and especially a sports journalist to be here because there were so many dynamic people” said Tappa.

One of those dynamic people was Lisa Bluder.

“She’s motivated, all about excellence, you can tell it’s more than basketball with her and I think that’s why people gravitate to her and she gets so many great kids at Iowa because it is more than that, it’s about high character, and it’s about doing the right thing” said Tappa.

During Bluder’s time at St. Ambrose, she built the program into an NAIA Power winning more than 82 percent of her games while leading the Queen Bees to 4 National Tournaments and 2 Final Fours.

“You know I don’t care how good of a coach you are, if you don’t have good athletes, you’re not gonna win, and you could be a terrible coach, if you have good athletes, you’re still win games” said Bluder.

One of those athletes who played for Bluder at St. Ambrose was Melissa Kallenberger.

It was tough, she’s a good coach, a lot of high expectations, but she was also able to build good player and coach relationships which I think has really helped her where she is today. Even after being away from the sport 34 or 35 years, she’s easy to talk to, we can just see eachother and pick up right where she left off " said Kallenberger.

When Bluder was in her twenties coaching at St. Ambrose, she was also getting her Masters in Sports Management. Now at the age of 61.... Bluder is about to coach in the biggest game of her career

“My first five years as a coach, I couldn’t even afford to go to the Final Four and now we’re gonna be there and I remember going so many times and seeing people there and thinking wow wouldn’t that be cool to be there” said Bluder.

It’s a joy for Bluder and for the friends she made at St. Ambrose

“To think that how far she has come, right now is amazing. I mean all the work and dedication and sacrifice that she’s put in is really amazing, I couldn’t be more happy for her said Kallenberger.

At the end of Tappa’s report in 1989 came a few words foreshadowing the incredible things ahead for Bluder.

“She hopes to be a Division One Coach Someday”.

Not only is Bluder a Division One Coach, she’s one of the best to ever do it.

“I know she looks back on these days and says boy that was a good start for her because she had great support from the University, she had great support from the community here” said Tappa.