Cliff Stevenson (center) guided Brown to a 193-71-18record (Photo courtesy of Brown University)
Long-time Brown University men’s soccer head Cliff Stevenson passed away Wednesday.
He was 92.
“Stevenson’s influence extended beyond the college game,” according to a story on the Brown University athletics website.. “Known as a pioneer, teacher, disciplinarian, legislator, evangelist and grounds keeper, his summer camps at Brown were among the first soccer camps in the country. When he retired, every high school in Rhode Island offered soccer as a varsity sport.”
A resident of Pawtucket, R.I., Stevenson coached at Brown for 19 years, directing the squad to a 193-71-18 record, 10 Ivy League titles, and 13 postseason bids.
He became Brown’s first fulltime soccer coach in 1960. That’s when he experienced his only losing season, winning but once in 10 games. After that, it was pure success as Stevenson stressed conditioning, the short passing game and a solid defense.
That was translated to a 52-5-5 mark from 1963-67 as all five losses were by one goal as the Bears outscored their foes, 211-53. Brown also strung together a 25-game winning streak from 1966-67 as the team dominated Ivy League and New England oppositions.
Stevenson also made his mark outside the university as he popularized soccer with the formation of youth leagues and had a field named after him at Aldrich-Dexter Field.
As it turns out, Stevenson did not play soccer at Pawtucket West High School because it didn’t have a team. But he participated in football, baseball and basketball.
He joined the Navy after graduation and eventually attended Springfield College, where he played soccer and lacrosse. After graduating in 1952, Stevenson became the varsity soccer and lacrosse coach and director of physical education at Oberlin College. During his eight-year tenure as soccer coach, Oberlin was 48-16-7, including three undefeated seasons and four Midwestern championships.
According to the Brown University athletics website:
“A reporter once asked an Ivy League soccer coach to evaluate the job Cliff Stevenson had done at Brown. ‘He’s a no-nonsense sort of guy,’ came the reply. “He recruits aggressively, is enthusiastic, and is completely dedicated in his approach to the game. He also happens to be one hell of a coach.’ ”
Stevenson was inducted into the Brown Athletics Hall of Fame in 1979.