Five Questions with Alumnus Steve Siegert

By Josh Newby, University Communications

Steve Siegert, B.A. ’72, recently attended the University of West Florida’s victory at the NCAA Division II baseball national championship in Cary, N.C. Siegert graduated from UWF with a degree in Psychology and said that he was very proud of his alma mater and hopes this does great things for the institution. He remarked that the school has changed in many positive ways, yet the core values still remain intact.

Q. How has the university changed since you attended almost 40 years ago?

A. UWF only had about four or five buildings when I was there. It was a small campus, but I never felt like I was receiving a small education. The university has really grown by leaps and bounds, while still maintaining an intimate teacher-student relationship. Back then, it was like going to a private school at a public institution, and when I visited the campus a year ago, it seemed to still be that way. I remember that the gym used to only have a few sets of weights and a universal machine; but now, we have the Health, Leisure and Exercise Science Facility, and it’s just beautiful. The whole campus is really just a hidden gem.

Q. How did UWF prepare you for your career?

A. I went to graduate school shortly after graduating from UWF and majored in rehabilitation counseling. From there, I became a prison counselor, probation officer and eventually ended up in medical sales. In one way or another, UWF prepared me for all of this. It’s a great school, and I received a great education. I went to a larger university before transferring. The only class options featured large auditoriums where I was one of about 200 students. It was a very detached education. When I got to UWF, I realized that the professors honestly cared for me. The experience was refreshing, and I owe a lot to that.

Q. What is your life like now?

A. I recently became certified as a personal trainer. I also teach tennis on the side, something I did in college as well, but that’s going to end soon due to an upcoming surgery. I am currently retired.

Q. What was it like watching UWF win the national championship?

A. I was going on a cruise that left the Sunday after the final game, and I knew that I just had to be at the championship. I went to three games and drove 300 miles round trip. After the drama of the early games and the overwhelming victory of the final game, the cruise felt anticlimactic. I couldn’t believe how good they were. I’ve had experience with larger universities and their sports programs, and I think they could beat some A.C.C. teams. I was so impressed with the precision and how they played, as well as their politeness and sportsmanship.

Q. What do you believe the championship will do for the institution?

A. I think the championship will do a lot. In the past, whenever I would say that I went to UWF, people would look at me quizzically and claim they hadn’t heard of the institution. Maybe now there will be some notoriety and exposure, two things that UWF definitely deserves and has earned. People tend to really get excited about college sports, and I think this will give the school an extra push and cause people to take it seriously and be passionate about the institution.

Siegert asked that this article and his story be dedicated to Gail Brooks, who graduated from UWF in 1973 and died prematurely of a brain tumor several years later, shortly after getting married.