Stevenson stands out
MICHIGAN CITY — Whether he’s on the soccer pitch or a football field, Nate Stevenson stands out.
Put the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Michigan City junior in a pair of hockey skates and he’s even more imposing.
“You don’t see a lot of big soccer players,” Stevenson said. “Most kickers are very small. It’s usually not good if your kicker is making a tackle.”
The Wolves kickoff specialist would be an exception. Also a baseball player who spent five years with the South Bend Adams hockey club, Stevenson has made his biggest mark, at least to date, in soccer. The defender was named All-Duneland Athletic Conference, team MVP and second-team all-district this season, also earning La Porte Herald-Argus Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors in the process.
“I know I have to be physical to be good,” Stevenson said. “I’m a little bit of an enforcer. I love the contact. As a big man on defense, you don’t get pushed around. If the game gets out of hand, you can body someone and they stop messing with you.”
A soccer lifer, Stevenson has always played on the back end, the same neighborhood he called home in hockey, which he gave up after his sophomore year. While the glamour of both sports is found in scoring, Stevenson’s always enjoyed being a defender.
“It’s always been my strong suit,” he said. “I know where guys are and what I have to do. You can see the whole field, which obviously you can’t if you’re in the front. You can control the flow of the game. I have a strong voice, so I can tell people what to do.”
The physical aspect of Stevenson’s game developed as he matured. Always stockily-built, he sprouted six inches in a year to go from about 5-8 to his current height.
“I’m coordinated for a big guy,” he said. “The fat turned to muscle, working out. My foot skills are good, so I can shoot when they need me to.”
Football was the last sport Stevenson added to his busy athletics schedule, not starting until high school. He handles kickoffs currently and figures to inherit the placement duties with the graduation of Riley Shreve, who’s also a soccer teammate, next season.
“I’ve got the leg,” Stevenson said. “I just have to work on my technique.”
Stevenson’s size also drew the attention of Wolves coach Phil Mason, who’s asked him about becoming more than a kicker. It’s an option Stevenson isn’t ruling out, though it wouldn’t be easy to quit soccer.
“I’d love to play football, but I’ve played soccer my whole life and I’d have to give it up (to play football),” he said. “It’s something to think about.”
It would be especially difficult considering the Wolves are positioned for success next season. They return several experienced players from a team that took eventual Class 3A state champion to the limit in a 1-0 sectional loss.
“We’ve got a good team coming up,” Stevenson said. “We’ve got the potential to keep moving up.”
For all of his athletic prowess, Stevenson shines the brightest academically. He carries a 4.8 grade point average with a current class load that features three advanced placement and two dual credit courses in addition to Advanced Honors German.
“I’m usually up past midnight studying,” he said. “Riley, Jackson (Attar), most of the soccer team’s pretty smart. We’re all up there. It’s important if you want to go on and do more soccer. If you don’t have good grades, they’re not going to consider you. You can’t slack off.”
Stevenson’s brother, Erik, attended Indiana and graduated from the Kelley School of Business en route to a successful career in the field. It’s a path Nate would like to follow, unless something develops with sports.
“I’m really good with numbers so I’d like to go into business,” he said. “I’ve had a pretty good junior year and my senior year’s about to be amazing. Maybe it will open some doors elsewhere.”