Santa Clara Soccer Lands News Training Center

Build a new state-of-the-art soccer training center. Upgrade the stadium. Erect a plaza to honor sports greats. We got this.

On June 10, the shovels hit the earth alongside the soccer practice fields and work began on something wonderful: a state-of-the-art soccer training center unlike anything Broncos have ever enjoyed. Thank Mary Stevens ’84 and husband Mark Stevens—who together made a $7.7 million gift to support SCU’s scholar-athletes.

Along with the new training center, from the Stevenses there’s fuel to upgrade Buck Shaw Stadium and to help build a new plaza to recognize and honor the importance and history of sports played on that field—including women’s and men’s soccer, as well as the legendary SCU football program.

Plus, the gift will further fund scholarships for students from Mary’s high school alma mater—St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon—to attend SCU.

Stevens
PRACTICE, INVEST: Mary Stevens ’84 and Mark Stevens. / Photo by Charles Barry

CALL IT A WATERSHED

The Stevenses’ gift is the largest gift ever to SCU athletics. “Coupled with two of the best coaching staffs in intercollegiate soccer, the sky is the limit now for our Bronco soccer programs,” says Dan Coonan, director of athletics programs.

Call it a watershed moment. Call it a catalyst to ensuring that athletics will continue to play a key role in animating what is finest about Santa Clara. And call it a building block of Santa Clara 2020, the integrated strategic plan that will shape the University’s next capital campaign.

A VIBRANT FORCE

On hand for the groundbreaking in June were, naturally, men’s soccer coach Cameron Rast ’92 and women’s soccer coach Jerry Smith. This spring, Smith inked a new contract with Santa Clara (much to the chagrin of the Fighting Irish, who were courting him to head the women’s soccer program at Notre Dame). This fall saw the launch of the Jerry Smith Coaching for Life Academy, a program to teach life skills through sports.

Also in store for athletics: a new plan, produced by the president’s blue-ribbon athletics task force, that calls for “a new level of resources to reach our goal of having an athletics program that is nationally prominent, ethically focused, and a vibrant force on campus,” in the words of President Michael Engh, S.J.

WE GOT STORIES

Before Mary Stevens spent 14 years in the commercial real estate industry in Silicon Valley, she played on the women’s soccer team herself. She has served on the Board of Trustees since 2012, on the Board of Fellows, and on the blue-ribbon athletics task force.

Mark Stevens, an active philanthropist and former partner in the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, serves on the University’s investment committee. “I see Santa Clara as the best Catholic institution in the Pacific Rim,” he says. “This gift is an investment in future leaders who will have the advantage of a strong grounding in academics, athletics, and global human values.”

We like the sound of that. We also recall that the Stevenses gave $7 million to build the Paul L. Locatelli, S.J., Student Activities Center. The new training facility is next door.

CARRY ON THE TRADITION

Finally, there’s a ritual that soccer players know well: At the end of a match, as a sign of respect, they exchange jerseys. That bit of knowledge sets the stage for what occurred at undergraduate commencement on June 14, when Mary Stevens was onstage for the ceremony and soccer star Brandi Chastain ’91 delivered the commencement address.

To wrap up her address, Chastain stoked the new grads’ excitement by taking off her ceremonial academic garb to reveal a soccer uniform underneath. “It’s OK if you feel like ripping your shirt off!” she enthused. (As in the World Cup, she did; this time she had another underneath.) “And whip it around your head!” (She did; the jersey was red and white with No. 21 emblazoned on it.) “This is the number I wore here at Santa Clara,” she said. “I want to give this to Mary Stevens for what she’s given to Santa Clara University as a memento of thanks for what is to come in the future here.”

The crowd went wild.

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