If you meet Stamford’s Megan Landsiedel off the court, she is a well-mannered, soft-spoken and friendly high school student.
If you happen to meet her on the basketball court, she is something quite different.
Landsiedel cannot quite explain what happens, but once she steps on the court her competitive juices start flowing and she is anything but friendly and certainly not nice, though she remains rather quiet.
In fact, she takes pride in her opponents not liking her and it is easy to see why she draws the ire of opposing players.
She is a tenacious defender and a guard who protects the ball like it is a precious gem on offense.
She also has a stone-cold demeanor, especially with the game on the line.
She is not out there to make friends, she is out there to win.
That all starts defensively where her long arms, quick hands and tenacity can get in the heads of opposing guards.
“I like doing that. Especially being a ball-handler. I know when you get frustrated, that’s not how you want to play,” Landsiedel said. “It kind of satisfies me to see them frustrated. I know I am going to stay calm and if they are frustrated or thinking about me and not the game, I have an advantage.”
Landsiedel is 6-feet tall but thin and somewhat unimposing. That is, until she starts playing.
Landsiedel credits her mother, Deborah, with passing on her toughness genes and her brother, Tyler, with treating her like one of the boys when they were young.
Tyler was a varsity basketball player at Stamford a few years ahead of Megan.
Tyler played a physical brand of basketball at Stamford, most comfortable banging inside and fighting for rebounds.
It was in the family driveway where Tyler refused to treat his younger sister differently.
“We used to play outside. He would take me down to the post and he never took it easy on me,” Landsiedel said. “I hate to lose. That’s my biggest thing. My parents don’t like to talk to me when I lose because I hate it so much and I am not good to be around after a loss.”
Landsiedel’s teammates feed off her quiet intensity in games and in practice.
She is not a rah-rah type and is not going to give a big speech to the team, preferring to let her actions speak.
Stamford senior captain Widline Thomas has known Landsiedel since middle school and played basketball, lacrosse and volleyball with her over the years.
“She is very competitive and that brings out everyone else’s competitiveness” Thomas said. “ She always has to win or one-up you. It is good because it makes other people around her better. She pushes you because of how competitive she is.”
Along with her toughness, Landsiedel plays with a calmness which seems to increase as the game goes on. The bigger the moment, the more locked in and steady she becomes.
She has developed a knack for playing her best in the fourth quarter and hitting clutch shots under pressure.
As a freshman, Landsiedel joined a team coming off FCIAC and Class LL titles with plenty of returning players.
She not only made the team, but after a few games earned the starting point guard spot, taking over for All-State guard Tiana England, who was off playing at St. John’s.
“We were returning nine kids from our state championship team and she ended up starting on that squad. That was impressive,” Stamford coach Diane Burns said. “We wanted to move Brooke (Kelly) and Alexa (Kellner) out to the wings as scorers. Having Megan be able to play point guard, changed everything that year. She jumped in right away and she was great at giving these people who wanted to score the ball.”
That team made it back to the FCIAC final, losing to Trumbull and was knocked out of the Class LL tournament in the quarterfinals at the buzzer by eventual champions New London.
There were three eventual Division-I and two Division-II college players on the court in the New London game along with Landsiedel starting and playing important minutes as a freshman.
“She was not intimidated and she was the point guard,” Burns said. “She has a calm to her. She has had it since she was a sixth-grader playing with seventh-graders and had it in that New London environment. You can’t teach that lack of emotion in a pressure situation.”
Burns said she has not had many players who possess the toughness Landsiedel shows combined with a calm demeanor.
“Once it’s game time, she has a different mindset,” Burns said. “She is a skinny little thing and maybe unassuming, but you are not going to push her around. She will hit big shots, all the time. She could miss 10 in-a-row in practice but if it is a drill where the loser has to run, she is going to hit that shot. She is also very confident with the ball. She may not have the most impressive ball-handling skills but you are not taking it from her.”
Burns said the seniors, along with a talented sophomore class, match Landsiedel’s intensity in practice, making for hard sessions every day after school.
“It makes everything very competitive,” Burns said. “The other seniors, Jessica (Nelson), Dina (Merone) and Widline (Thomas), who is a three-sport captain at Stamford, are all very competitive kids. When they see Megan going all out, they want to match that.”
Stamford is currently 7-0 but with a tough FCIAC schedule ahead of them.
Landsiedel and the other seniors only want to leave Stamford one way. With a 2019-20 girls basketball banner hanging in the gym.
“It would mean a lot. That is always what we are working towards,” Landsiedel said. “This group of seniors is very close. We are all together in school and all very close. We go at it in practice but we all want to win together.”