Ex-Bearcat Stevens Enjoying Unique Coaching Experience

Jan. 25, 2011

By Garrett Sabelhaus

Stephanie Stevens had less than a week to make the move from Cincinnati to Washington D.C. after she graduated following summer quarter 2010.

Her transition had to be fast but she was used to a busy schedule after playing basketball for the Bearcats for four years. She wanted to remain active on the court while at the same time put to work her new degree in Special Education specializing in Signed Language Interpretation.

Now, as a graduate assistant coach at D.C. based Division III Gallaudet University with the women's basketball team, Stevens has the best of both worlds.

Gallaudet is the world's only university where all its programs are designed for deaf or hard of hearing students. The entire Bison squad is deaf or hard of hearing.

Stevens remembers speaking with a current UC assistant who helped her get her foot in the door at GU.

"I had a meeting with Coach Mark Ehlen and we were having a talk one day about what I wanted to do after I graduated," Stevens said. "I had told him that I wanted to become a graduate assistant; that I wanted to go to school and get my Master's and I wanted to coach basketball."

Ehlen knew Stevens, now 23, was studying sign language and told her he had a friend who coached at a deaf college.

"I looked at him and I'm thinking there are only a few deaf colleges and I was thinking one of them was Gallaudet because it's a very well known deaf and hard of hearing university," Stevens said. "I gave him the name and said `Is it Gallaudet' and he said `Yeah as a matter of fact it is' and I just went crazy. I was very happy that something like this could possibly even happen."

Minutes later Ehlen had long-time friend and Gallaudet head coach Kevin Cook on the phone.

Ironically and luckily for Stevens, a Pickerington, Ohio native, Cook's current graduate assistant was finishing her two years with the team and the head coach was in need of a replacement.



Stevens knew she had it. She spoke with Cook on the phone and sent her resume without a doubt in her mind she would be moving to Washington D.C.

Sure enough it was hers and a week after graduating from UC she was in D.C. at Gallaudet.

Now, in her first season at GU, the team is off to its best start in program history at 16-0 (13-0 North Eastern Athletic Conference) and holds onto the No. 24 national ranking in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.

Sunday's close win over SUNYIT gave Gallaudet its 16th straight win breaking a school record from 1998-99.

"There's a big buzz because we haven't been this successful since 1999," Stevens said. "I can speak for the whole team and staff that (the record) was not our goal. We want to win our tournament and we want to reach the NCAAs and that's what we're focusing on."

Stevens is studying Leisure Services and Administration, earning her Master's degree at Gallaudet. Part of the degree includes learning how to run and manage clinics or large camps like possibly a summer basketball camp.

Once she finishes her Master's program she wants to remain active in the deaf community as well as try to remain on the sidelines coaching. She wouldn't rule out a return to the University of Cincinnati either if UC coach Jamelle Elliott ever needs an assistant.

Laughing Stevens said of the idea, "Maybe. You never know."