Steffes received his AAA beach rating while still attending Palisades High School. He was named the 1986 National High School Player of the Year and was the nation's most highly recruited high school senior. He enrolled at Stanford University and played for one season before transferring to UCLA. As a Bruin he red-shirted his first year and then opted out of his scholarship to join the AVP Tour full time in 1988. Karch Kiraly, who was just returning to beach volleyball after seven years on the National Team, chose to team with Steffes on the professional beach circuit. The two formed one of the beach's most successful partnerships. Steffes earned the AVP No. 1 ranking at age 24, the youngest player to do so. Along with doubles teammate Kiraly, they won the gold medal in beach volleyball at the 1996 Summer Olympics, the first to win the gold medal in this event.
Steffes graduated from UCLA in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in economics. That same year he was a member of the AVP Board of Directors, and served as Secretary. In 2000 he enrolled in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, where he graduated in 2002.
Steffes has a wife, Michelle, from Mount Vernon, Virginia. They have two children together, Katharine Jackson Steffes, born in 2004 followed two years later by Conrad William Steffes, born in 2006.