When Stevie Mussie was in high school at Puyallup High, the way she handled herself on the volleyball court, her former high school coach, Tony Batinovich, thought she was going to go off to college and become a lawyer.
The way she handled herself with her teammates during games, it was almost too obvious for her to take that path.
When Mussie was playing for Puyallup during her senior year, she thought her life was going to be much different than seeing a court of any kind.
“I thought I was going to open a clothing store after going to community college … without (my parents), I would have rode horses the rest of my life and been a cowgirl,” Mussie said with a laugh about the possibility of spending days out on her parents’ open range. “And there’s not a darn thing wrong with that. But things ended up turning out differently than that.”
Thanks to the effort of her parents, John and Debbie, Mussie’s life has turned out quite differently than riding horse on the beaten path. The Puyallup High grad and former University of Washington Husky was named the head women’s volleyball coach at Arizona State University in February, becoming the seventh head coach in the program’s history.
“My parents live in Arizona now, and my aunt lives in Scottsdale, so I’ve literally been growing up here since I was 6 years old,” said Mussie, who played a key role on the University of Washington’s 2005 National Championship team. “This is kind of a second home for me. That definitely made my choice easier once the opportunity was there.”
“Looking at Stevie’s track record, she has experienced measurable success at each stop in her coaching career,” Ray Anderson, ASU vice president for athletics, said in a release announcing Mussie’s hire. “She has an innate ability to relate to student-athletes on a personal level and tremendous energy and enthusiasm for bringing the next world-class volleyball players to ASU. Stevie is a young, talented coach and is eager to drive the Sun Devil volleyball program to national relevance.”
Over her career, Mussie has compiled quite the accomplishments, becoming the first Gatorade Player of the Year (2002) from Puyallup High — beating out Olympian and former UW teammate Courtney Thompson (Kentlake, 2002), who was named the Washington State POY — before working as an assistant at Virginia, North Carolina State and Penn State, arguably the top D-I volleyball program over the last two decades.
“Once she went to Penn State, that’s when I knew she was serious (about coaching),” Batinovich said. “She’s someone who is really good at communicating with young girls, and motivating them to play at their best. I’m going to be watching her, and I’ll be cheering for her — and as a Coug (Washington State grad), that’s going to be tough.”
Mussie was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame by the Tacoma Athletic Commission back in June.
After playing for a top conference in the Pac-10 and winning a national title with UW, Mussie always wanted the chance to coach out in Arizona.
She had many great memories on the volleyball court. How could she not with the career she’s racked up? But the memories that stood out were always those days out riding on her family’s farm.
“This has always been the school I wanted to coach for, and since I’m ultra close to my family, I thought (the opportunity) would be kind of neat,” Mussie said. “So, it just kind of sort of happened. It happened at the right time, and it was a relatively quick (three-week) process.”
Even with Mussie traveling the country, Puyallup has never left her mind. She’s been keeping an eye on her hometown.
The city of Puyallup and Pierce County has been the coach’s home. It’s hard not looking back, wishing for the best to come out of the place where you grew up.
“I think I always tend to follow people from Puyallup as a little bit of a weirdo, (but) you always want people from your home town to do well,” Mussie said. “With (UW coach) Keegan (Cook) up there coaching Washington, and I always joke with him, ‘Hey, I’m back on the West Coast. You better put up a (recruiting) fence.’”