LJ native pens book on legendary coach

‘Those Who Stay’ follows Stephenson’s days with Schembechler

When Bo Schembechler died a little more than two years ago, one of his former players was so affected by the loss that he felt he had to do something monumental. The legendary University of Michigan football coach had impacted him so greatly during his time in Ann Arbor that he wanted to give something back.

Out of that inspiration came the book “Those Who Stay,” published last month by Curt Stephenson, who grew up in La Jolla and went on to play for Schembechler at Michigan from 1973-77.

The book is a memoir of his experiences as a walk-on player at Michigan who weighed only 140 pounds and had played just one year of high school football when he arrived on campus his freshman year.

Honoring a mentor

“He was my mentor, and I wanted to find a way to honor him,” Stephenson said.

“He was a big part of the foundation for me to become successful in life, and so I really wanted to do something for him.”

Stephenson’s original idea was to give money toward a scholarship to support other walk-on players. As the president of a real estate development company based in Newport Beach, he may have had the means simply to write a check, but decided to write a book on his experiences and direct all funds raised through the sale of the book toward the scholarship.

Stephenson was born in Michigan, and after watching the Schembechler-led Wolverines upset Ohio State when he was 11, told his parents he would attend Michigan and play for Schembechler.

Time on the beach

A week later, his family moved to La Jolla, and he found himself turning most of his attention to playing volleyball at the beach. As Stephenson’s senior year at La Jolla High School approached, his father reminded him of his promise to play for Schembechler, and Stephenson decided he should play at least a year for the Vikings.

“When I first walked on at Michigan, they weren’t going to let me play anything, because I was too light,” Stephenson recalled with a laugh.

Stephenson eventually grew, and got stronger and faster, and earned a spot on the team. He was a member of four Big Ten championship teams and played in two Rose Bowl games and an Orange Bowl. His book chronicles the many ups and downs of his journey, he said.

After a brief stint in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, Stephenson turned his attention to real estate, and now lives in Del Mar with his wife and children.

Stephenson’s book is available online at

and at most book retailers’ Web sites.