When Robert Stevenson interviewed for the Muskogee boys tennis job, there was one question that never went asked, even while assistant athletic director James Platter prodded him for it.
Finally, Stevenson tells it, Platter just came out and asked the local insurance agent about the pay.
“I said I wasn’t here for that,” Stevenson said. “I’m here to make a positive impact and make it a better place.”
Truth be told, he has some cushion, which tells him this is the time and place for a career switch.
“Tennis is a passion. I’ve got my house paid off, my car paid off so I’m not worried about that at all,” he said.
So he’s obtaining an emergency certification and will teach computer classes. The Northeastern State grad got his bachelor’s degree in history earlier but stopped short of a teaching certification.
“I was young and headstrong and got tired of all the educational courses and wound up getting an opportunity to try the insurance business,” he said.
That’s where he was through several private school coaching jobs. He coached at Monte Cassino, the K-8 school where Muskogee athletic director Jason Parker served as athletic director before eventually taking on the same duties at Sapulpa. Stevenson went on to coach at Cascia Hall, where the Commandos won both boys and girls middle school state titles under him.
“I know Muskogee has had some kids qualify for state, but my goal is to have the whole team competing and focus on developing it at the younger levels,” he said. “At Cascia the parents have got kids playing tennis as soon as they’re able to walk.
“I know the coaches in the Tulsa area and Muskogee doesn’t get any respect in seedings. They’re always going up against the No. 1 or No. 2 seeds a lot of the time. I want to be a part of changing that. I want Muskogee tennis back on the map.”
Oddly, his passion for tennis didn’t start until he went to Connors State. He didn’t play at Muskogee, where he graduated in 1988, but was part of a group that formed a tennis team at Connors. Of those, he said, one played high school tennis. The first year they played, they finished third at region. He played both No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles.
Eventually, he would like to get back into another passion.
“I’d like to eventually switch over to teaching history,” he said. “I majored in it and it’s always been along the same kind of passion tennis has.”
Stevenson replaces Rusty Bradley, who recently stepped down.