By Erik Swartout ’17
In the early hours on a bright and sunny spring day, Tevon Stephens-Brown prepares for what could be his last collegiate event. He steps into the shot put ring ready to put everything on the line. He can hear the slow clap from his teammates in the background that has given him an extra burst so many times before. No words can describe the raw emotions of an athlete completely indulged in moments of pure passion.
Tevon Stephens-Brown, a two sport athlete turned recruiter at Pacific Lutheran University, graduated in the spring of 2015. Tevon was an All-Conference lineman for the Lutes on the football team and also an All-Conference thrower for the track and field team. Without knowing him personally, he may seem like the most intimidating person on the planet. On the football field, he threw people around like the Hulk did to Loki in ‘The Avengers.’ In the shot put ring, he made a 16 pound shot put fly like he was throwing a baseball. On this planet, there is not a person more genuinely nice or humble than Tevon.
“I hope to be remembered as kind and just an enjoyable person to be around,” Tevon stated. “That would make me happy.”
Every athlete at some point must come to grips with the fact that their athletic careers do not last forever. Like Tevon, many have experienced all sorts of adrenaline filled moments that make for some great memories. For some, it is a challenge to transition away from a competitive lifestyle. According to the NCAA, fewer than one percent of collegiate athletes go on to play professionally. This leaves more than 99 percent of student-athletes that must face retirement from their sport upon graduation.
Athletics provides a way for people to experience once in a lifetime opportunities and it can be a big shock for some the instant their time is up. This shock can also have a negative impact on athletes if it isn’t handled in the correct way. Based on a survey from Sports Health, college athletes are found to have increased levels of depression compared to those who did not participate in athletics.
However, Tevon has taken his transition out of athletics smoothly and has avoided what other athletes have experienced. His way to cope with his sports retirement is to use his experiences as a way to help young students achieve their goals. He still uses advice from his old football coach on a daily basis to help give him perspective on life and its true meaning. One piece of advice that has stuck with him from his coach, Scott Westering, is a reminder to never look down or ‘count the bricks’ while going through life. He learned to keep his head up and smile to everyone he walks by.
“Scott would always tell us to never count the bricks and always make it a great day no matter what,” Tevon said.
Tevon’s down to Earth mentality and care for others is what makes him special. There is a reason why he was voted as a football team captain and that is because he is such a giving individual. His teammates always knew what Tevon was going to give for the team day in and day out. A teammate of Tevon, Kellen Westering, talked about his consistent leadership.
“What makes Tevon a good leader is he leads by his actions. A lot of people voted for him for captain because he always made the right decisions,” Westering said.
His leadership and willingness to put others before himself are rare traits for someone to have in today’s ‘me first’ society. With his athletic mindset and selfless spirit, Tevon hopes to use his life as an athlete to make a difference in the community through teaching. He hopes to one day become a principal or superintendent.
“Being from Tacoma, I just really think there are a lot of flaws in the school system,” Tevon explained. “Looking at it now from an admissions counselor prospective, I feel bad because kids don’t know what they should know.”
The slow clap continues to build as Tevon recounts upon his last moment in that shot put ring. It is not just the end of his athletic career, but it is the beginning of something greater than himself. This is a new beginning for a selfless man whose greatest hope is to create opportunities for young people to pursue college, while helping chase their life goals. Athletics may come and go, but the mark you leave on others will last forever.