NEW CANAAN — Carson Allsteadt is known to most as one of the best players to come out of the New Canaan volleyball program, picking up the sport as a freshman and developing rapidly to become a college recruit.
Surprisingly few are aware of the other considerable distinctions on Allsteadt’s resume, a list one would expect to see on someone approaching retirement, not making her way on the up escalator.
Competitive cheerleader. Model. Actress.
“Not many people know this about me,” Allsteadt said with the humility of someone who has never trumpeted her accomplishments. “It was quite a balancing act.”
Every activity Allsteadt attempted has ended in success. There is a common thread, most notable in her volleyball arc.
“Hard work definitely helps,” Allsteadt said with a smile.
Allsteadt last fall became just the second New Canaan volleyball player since 2002 to earn All-FCIAC honors and the first in six years. Allsteadt was also named to the All-State team, was heavily recruited by a number of Division III schools and ultimately decided to attend Washington and Lee in Virginia because of its location and small school size. In two weeks she will begin her college career.
“I would have never expected this freshman year when I first started,” Allsteadt said.
Allsteadt’s story can best be appreciated if told in chronological order.
She started cheerleading in 4th grade with Xtreme in Norwalk, and was a flyer on two national championship teams, reaching the highest level of the sport. At the same time, a friend suggested she look into acting and modeling.
“I always thought that was interesting,” Allsteadt said. “When I was younger I did a lot of theater and singing so it was sort of in the same area.”
Allsteadt signed with an agency in New York and started auditioning. She got hired for a number of modeling jobs, including national spots for AT&T and Target. Five years ago she ended up on a Parade magazine cover. Allsteadt also got several acting assignments. She appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and had small roles in three films, including a remake of Annie that starred Will Smith and Cameron Diaz.
“It was very cool,” Allsteadt said. “It was really interesting because the process of filming is so different. You have to have so many takes and make so many different changes. It’s a lot harder than it seems. It was really fun. I was really happy to have that experience.”
Several changes occurred that dramatically altered Allsteadt’s professional and extracurricular schedules. The biggest — no pun intended — is she grew three inches. That proved beneficial when she decided to try out for the New Canaan volleyball team as a freshman but forced her to give up cheerleading as a sophomore.
Allsteadt’s commitments — she has also been active with her church and as a volunteer — also caused her to give up modeling and acting.
“One reason I stopped was volleyball and sports,” Allsteadt said. “It was just too much. Even though modeling was fun I liked sports better and saw more of a future in it.”
Well, maybe not initially.
“I remember freshman year after the first day of tryouts I was so nervous that I wouldn’t make the team,” Allsteadt said. “When I started I was not good at all. I was horrible.”
Allsteadt’s rapid development as a volleyball player — she is now 5-10 — was the result of a common trait in all her endeavors: an unyielding work ethic. Allsteadt spent time practicing in her backyard so she could give up serving underhanded. She made use of a personal trainer and joined a club team at Chelsea Piers, where her teammates included Maggy Egan, Nicole Wood and Tara Ford, who led Greenwich to FCIAC and state titles last year.
If Allsteadt had any free time she was hitting a volleyball.
“I quickly improved and junior year was my big turning point,” Allsteadt said. “Then I started getting recruited. Before that I never thought I could play in college. That was exciting.”
It all came together last year for Allsteadt. She had the second-most kills of any player in the state and helped lead the Rams to a 13-10 record, their best mark since 2011. Allsteadt said the team flourished under its new coach, Kevin Marino.
“It was great. I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Allsteadt said. “The whole volleyball season was so exciting. Coming in I really didn’t know what to expect having a new coach. He turned out to do a really great job. The season turned out to be so fun, as was the rest of my year with club.”
Allsteadt has fond memories of the parts of her life that many aspire to but few reach.
“I remember when I was younger I used to be a little bit embarrassed by the modeling thing,” Allsteadt said. “I don’t know why. Now I think it’s cool. I miss it a little bit. I wish I had more time so I could do stuff like that too. I’m just too busy.”
College volleyball is part of the next chapter and a new challenge for Allsteadt.
“I think I will continue to improve in college and my coaches saw I had room to improve and that is one of the reasons why they really wanted me to join their team,” Allsteadt said.
Like her peers getting ready to make the first major transition in their lives, Allsteadt has found herself doing a lot of reflecting. Few have made so many varied and unique memories before turning 18.
Said Allsteadt, “It’s kind of crazy how my whole adolescent life turned out but it’s been a fun ride.”