Last month Sandy Stevens, the voice of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, created the Bear and Sandy Stevens Head Wrestling Coach Endowment. Named after her and her late husband, Bob “Bear” Stevens, the endowment will help fund the Head Coaching position at UNI for the foreseeable future.
“This may sound dramatic, but I’ve seen wrestling change the way people look at the world and themselves,” said Sandy via the UNI press release on the endowment. “I believe so strongly in the sport that I didn’t want anything to ever happen to UNI’s wrestling program. We have such a phenomenal legacy here. Giving to UNI was one way to continue this legacy.”
“There’s no one that’s done more for our program than Sandy Stevens,” UNI Head Coach Doug Schwab said on Takedown radio two weeks ago. “We’re fortunate to have someone like her.”
The wrestling program is the first at UNI to hold such a endowment for a coaching position. The donation gives stability to a position within the program that will allow for its continued growth and success.
“I would not have done this had I not believed in Doug Schwab and the kind of coach he is and the kind of coaches UNI has had and will continue to have,” said Sandy via the release. “He has the same high expectations and standards for his wrestlers off the mat as he does on the mat. He is an outstanding example of teaching life lessons but also of caring about the individual, whether that individual is an All-American or someone in the wrestling room working his tail off.”
This isn’t the first time that Sandy has given back to her alma mater. She was a major donor when the UNI and Schwab were looking to renovate their locker and wrestling rooms in 2012.
“To get the wrestling room done, it was because of her, and the donation that she gave,” Schwab said. “Her husband wrestled at UNI under Koll, and he had a huge effect on him as a man. She saw that and that’s why she gives back now.”
Bear Stevens wrestled from 1959-63 under then Head Coach Bill Koll. After graduating he took an assistant wrestling coaching position at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, later taking the first Head Coaching job at John F. Kennedy High on 42nd street when it opened in 1966.
“I believe so much in the sport of wrestling and what it does for those who wrestle and their futures,” Sandy said. “My husband gave credit to wrestling for helping to save his life because of his growing up in extreme poverty and not being expected to do anything but work in a plant of some sort. I am so proud of UNI’s wrestlers and coaching staff and being able to give back to UNI.”
We’re just fortunate that we have someone like her, because we wouldn’t have the things that we have right now,” Schwab said. “UNI does have a great history, and we want to start bringing some of that history back.”