Coach Augie Stevens and his worldwide path to southern France

Augie Stevens may only be 32 years old, but he has already logged 14 years as a coach and recently signed on for his third international gig, as head coach of the Catalans Grizzlys, a team in the small town of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, located right on the Mediterranean coastline.

In other words, he’ll be coaching football against a backdrop of palm trees and beaches.

It wasn’t where he had been expecting to find a football team. But in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, finding work in football has definitely been a challenge so Stevens was thrilled to take the job at the head coach of the Grizzlys in southern France. Ultimately though, it was the passion of the club and also of course the beauty of southern France that made the decision for Stevens.

“When I drove into southern France and saw that first palm tree, the Mediterranean Sea before me, the endless white beaches, the snowy mountains, and the hillside vineyards everywhere I was simply blown away. My only hope was that the people here would either be terrible or wonderful, so to make my decision easy. Of course, they also blew me away. They impressed me with their passion for the sport, their generosity, and their positivity.

The Mount Vernon, Washington native fell in love with football in high school but injuries prevented him from playing at the collegiate level so he started coaching at a local high school. After college, Stevens took a chance to play and coach football in  Brisbane Australia setting the stage for his whirlwind global football adventure.

“It was an amazing experience in a wildly beautiful country. It was tough, physical football and I balanced playing free safety while also being the head coach for the U19 team. I recall a week when we had to bring up one of our junior defensive back players to fill in and it was a very amusing moment to be smashing folks together in the secondary with this great kid. Overall, playing in Australia was also an important growing-up experience that prepared me mentally for the tough football jobs I had down the road. “

After his experience in Australia, Stevens bounced around coaching at the college and high school levels in Indiana (Earlham College), Kentucky (Lindsey Wilson College), and Washington (Mead High School). During this time the ambitious young coach also set up a business called KTA recruiting which helped connect high school athletes to college recruiters.  Stevens on his time at Earlham College (Indiana):

“During that time I had the opportunity to wear many different hats. I coached 3 different positions, coordinated some special teams, recruited 22 different states, coordinated the strength program, and was the video and equipment coordinator. I never would’ve had these chances to learn if I’d started my college coaching career somewhere large.”

Stevens worldwide adventure continued shortly after his time in Kentucky as he became the head coach of the Příbram Bobcats in the Czech Republic. Stevens lead both the senior and U19 Bobcat football teams to unexpected success, while enjoying and immersing himself in a new country and culture.

“I truly enjoyed my time in the Czech Republic. Fun culture, beautiful landscapes, and deep connections to the medieval past everywhere. Wonderful and friendly people with long history of perseverance through times of trouble. I will always have unfinished business in that country.”

Stevens has big plans for the program as he wants to build a program fans and players can be proud of.

The goal for Stevens and the Grizzlys is to become a dominant team in France and develop their French players over time. Speaking with Stevens you can feel the ambition and passion he has for building a program through his values.

“I knew I had found the right spot to build my “Kingdom of Football.” I originally considered this team because of their location, top division status, and ambitions, but I signed with the Grizzlys because of the people here. They are above all else, enthusiastic.”

The Grizzlys are relatively new to the French Elite level after a quick climb from France’s third division just 3 years ago.  The Grizzlys have supported Stevens vision by signing five foreign import players including two Americans, and two Europeans with experience in the German Football League. Stevens wants to make it known that the Grizzlys‘ goals don’t stop at just being part of France’s top league.

“We’ll bring a swaggering mindset and a set of schemes that are difficult to prepare for. We’re not here just to prove that we belong in the Elite Division, but to sail up to some fancy ships, trade some cannon balls, and plunder the gold and spices from as many teams as possible.”

As he embarks on another international football adventure, and no matter how the Grizzlys perform on the field in 2021, the unbridled passion and enthusiasm that Stevens brings will definitely be key elements, and make them worth watching.

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football