Duncan Stevenson has been the driving force behind Pierce College athletics for the better part of two decades.
Stevenson has served as director of district athletics at Pierce for seven years and before that oversaw athletics and Student Programs for 16 years.
“I am a behind the scenes guy,” Stevenson says. “Working with young men and women at this level has really become a passion for me.”
Stevenson grew up in California and moved to Anacortes, Wash., after his senior year in high school. He graduated Western Washington University then worked in the private sector for a number of years before coming to Pierce.
He admits having mixed perceptions of community and vocational colleges when he was younger but says his time at Pierce has changed his perception of vocational and community colleges.
“For me it rings true now that this is really the foundation and the fabric holds our education system together,” Stevenson says.
He cited the incredible value for students that are either financially or academically unprepared and how many students are first generation college students.
Stevenson places a high importance on academics and said that more than 50 percent of second-year participants earn their associate’s degrees. He also says he is focused on retaining first year participants through to the second year.
“We want to see our students do well in the classroom,” Stevenson says. “For an athlete you have a defined window of opportunity to use your eligibility. Usually if you’re coming in at this level, you’re not going to make a living playing ball.”
Stevenson says that getting that message across to the young men and women is not always easy because they still envision the chance to play at the next level or even professionally.
“The question is,” Stevenson says, “how do you use your athletic skills and ability to help create that educational opportunity for your future?”
He said that above everything, the friendships built through athletic participation are invaluable.
“Most of those people will stay connected for many years to come,” Stevenson says.
He feels that there is less of an emphasis on athletics because Pierce does not belong to the National Junior College Athletic Association.
He also says that five out of six Pierce head coaches are part time employees. Volleyball coach Doug Carlson is the exception as he runs the Ft. Steilacoom Health Education Center.
Stevenson says that coaching at this level usually means receiving part time pay for a full time commitment in heart, soul and passion.
“They all have full time jobs or careers in the community,” Stevenson says. “It’s a 12-month commitment. We compensate them at a level that doesn’t really reflect that.”
Overall though, he thinks that athletics at Pierce College has consistently been improving.
“We’re head and shoulders to where we were ten years ago and 30 years prior to that,” Stevenson says. “I certainly want to see our programs continue to grow competitively.”
At least four of Pierce College’s six athletics teams entered the NWAACC playoffs during the last six years. The soccer team already made it to the playoffs this season.
“Getting us consistently where all six teams are in the playoffs, that’s a big thing,” Stevenson says.
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