DAPHNE, Ala. – United States Sports Academy alumnus Joshua Steffen was recently named head basketball coach at the nation’s second oldest all-women’s college.
Steffen, who has 17 years of coaching experience including 12 at the collegiate level, was hired to take the reins of the women’s basketball program at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.
Steffen earned his Master of Sports Science degree in sports coaching from the Academy in 2007, while he was working full time as the head women’s basketball coach at Concordia University Chicago (CUC).
“When we moved here to Columbia I found some of my Academy textbooks from my master’s program, and they are as relevant today as they were when I earned my degree,” Steffen said.
“I think the thing that made the Academy master’s program so invaluable to me was that it was so interactive. I was able to share experiences and feedback with my fellow students and teachers in chat rooms. It really helped me to be able to talk to other people who were interested in and doing the things that I was doing.
“I was a young coach when I earned my degree, so being able to learn from other coaches was invaluable. I earned my degree while coaching full time, so I would often spend a couple hours watching film then get out my laptop and work on my classwork. It was a busy time but well worth it. My Academy degree was a tremendous benefit to my career.”
Steffen spent six seasons at CUC, and under his leadership, the team appeared in both the 2012 and 2013 Northern Athletics Conference Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Prior to CUC, Steffen spent six seasons at Concordia University Ann Arbor, where he served as head coach for more than four years. After the 2007-08 season, Steffen was named the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Coach of Character.
Steffen has also spent time working in various roles such as assistant sports information director, athletic recruiting coordinator, admissions counselor and student-athlete advisory council faculty representative.
Before being hired at Stephens, Steffen worked as admissions director and varsity boys basketball coach at Living Word Lutheran High School in Jackson, Wisc.
The second oldest all-women’s institution in the nation, Stephens College is located just blocks from both the University of Missouri and Columbia College. Steffen said the location and the traditions at the school made Stephens College’s offer hard to ignore.
“I coached collegiate women’s basketball for 12 years before taking a job at a high school back in Wisconsin, and I always hoped to get back into college coaching,” Steffen said. “Stephens College was similar in size and scope to where I’d been before. Plus, it’s a historic college in a great location. I’m thrilled to be coaching a college team again and I’m excited about being able to really dig into recruiting.
“The best thing about coaching is that what you do can not only make your athletes better players, but you also have the power to help shape them as people.”
The Stephens Stars compete in the America Midwest Conference in NAIA Division 1.
Born in Champaign, Ill., Steffen lived in Illinois and Wisconsin before playing basketball at Wisconsin Lutheran College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communication.
Steffen said he believes the women’s basketball game is often more cerebral and fundamental than the men’s game, and that gives him an opportunity to use the skills he learned at the Academy and in his prior experiences on the court.
“There is something special about the women’s game,” he said. “There are fewer ‘above the rim’ type players in the women’s game than the men’s game, so I feel like it lends itself to coaching and strategy.
“But in the women’s game and in men’s basketball – just like every other sport – the best coaches are the ones who see their players as people who matter. Players need to feel comfortable with and trust their coaches. The best coaches not only teach the right strategies and fundamentals, but they also connect with their players on a deeper level.”
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.