Administrator Spotlight: Mal Stewman
A 1994 graduate of Central Washington and a former Wildcats' football player, Stewman
A 1994 graduate of Central Washington and a former Wildcats' football player, Stewman "came home to athletics" after holding a number of other positions on the CWU campus.
Mal Stewman
Mal Stewman

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation. 

Name: Mal Stewman
Title: Academic Success Coordinator for Student-Athletes
Institution: Central Washington University
Hometown: Tacoma, Wash.

Colleges Attended & Degree: Central Washington University (Undergraduate, Sociology; Graduate, Athletic Administration)

Why Did You Decide To Work In Collegiate Athletics: When I graduated from high school, I was undecided about my future. Both of my parents were teachers, so they spent a lot of time encouraging me to consider college. While I was always open to the idea, it wasn't until I was given the opportunity to play football for CWU that I fully committed to the idea of going to college.

Once I arrived on campus, the experience of being a collegiate athlete changed my life. Through collegiate athletics at CWU, I gained an appreciation for the value of education, a strong connection to my school, and many lifelong friends. When I was offered the chance to build an academic success program, it was an exciting opportunity that I could not pass up. Getting to work with student-athletes in this capacity was a dream come true for me. I really enjoy seeing our students reach their goal by making the transition from athlete-student to student-athlete.

Who Has Influenced You The Most As A Professional - Either As An Inspiration, A Mentor, Or Philosophically: The first people I must mention are my parents. They came from the deep south and grew up with no lights or running water. My grandparents did not get past elementary school yet somehow my parents found a way to make to college. My dad sold a horse to get his first year’s tuition and worked for the rest of his time while attending classes. They went on to become successful teachers and fostered in me an appreciation for education that I have to this day.

The next person that comes to mind is Robin MacAlpine. He was a national champion wrestler for CWU that went on to become an admissions counselor. He came to my high school and encouraged me to check out Central. After I came to college, he continued to support us by helping us form a club called the Minority Student Association. Robin was a guidepost for me and others as we transitioned into college life. He shared his story and experiences and helped me believe that I could be successful in college. It was through watching his student-centered approach, that I gained inspiration to do for others what he did for us.

Dr. James Pappas was a great inspiration to me as well. He was the dean of admission at the time that I came to campus. He was instrumental in sending out recruiting vans to bring us high school students to CWU so we could experience life on campus. He could spot me from anywhere in the building that he worked in. He would call me into his office and check my grades before we could start any potential conversations. He always challenged me to work harder and would not accept anything less than my best effort.

Biggest Obstacle Overcome As A Professional: The biggest obstacle I faced was finding a way back into athletics after many years of working in other areas on campus. When I started my master’s degree in athletic administration, I found myself surrounded by individuals that were currently involved with student-athletes. It made me realize how much missed it. Yet, I had no direct athletic experience. So I began to hang around athletics and, after some time, got the opportunity to co-teach a class for incoming student-athletes.

Eventually the need arose to hire a person to serve the academic needs of student-athletes. I got to be involved in the conceptualizing of that position. Eventually, with some time and perseverance, I was blessed with the opportunity to join CWU Athletics as the academic success coordinator for student-athletes. It took me several years to find my way home, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it now that I am here!

What Does Division II Mean To You: To me, NCAA Division II means opportunity. It means more access for student-athletes to reach both their academic and athletic goals. Many of our students come in with the intention of being great athletes and striving to get meaningful degrees. It is so rewarding to see them fully make this experience theirs and achieve those goals.

Extracurricular Activities: I enjoy and spending time with my son, watching CWU sports, coaching youth sports and playing guitar at my church.

Best Advice You’d Give To Student-Athletes: Always strive to work from a full heart. Life is filled with wins and losses and all those experiences fill you up or drain you out. Thus, you must be deliberate about taking steps to fill your heart with things that inspire you. Choose to surround yourself with people and things that encourage you and give you life. It's the overflowing heart that has enough to sustain itself and share with others!

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be: I would love to spend a day with Martin Luther King, Jr. His ability to persevere and push on through adversity always inspires me. I would love to know more about how he kept his eyes on what could be in the face of such overt opposition to change.

Favorite Sports Team: I love my CWU Wildcats! I'm also a big Seattle Seahawks fan. As for basketball, I'm patiently waiting for the return of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Favorite Athlete: Right now I have to go with Russell Wilson of Seattle Seahawks. I love his competitive spirit. He is tough as nails and he never gives up. He is also a good role model for kids and does a lot of great service work in the community.

Most Memorable Sports-Related Moment: I went to 3A Washington High School (home of the Mighty Patriots). I remember playing against defending 4A state champions Puyallup High School with future professional Billy Joe Hobart at the helm as quarterback. We were supposed to be a tune-up game for them and everybody predicted that we would get blown out (by a lot).

Once the game began, we came at them with nothing to lose. At halftime, we found ourselves ahead 21-14. All of a sudden we realized that we had a chance. We played our hearts out and ended up winning the game 35-21. The game meant nothing in terms of standings, but it was like the Super Bowl for us. We came together as a team and won a game that no one thought we could win. When I see my old teammates, we still talk about that game!

After that, I would have to say watching the Seattle Seahawks win their first Super Bowl! After all those years of struggle and mediocrity, it was amazing to finally see my team decisively win the big game!