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Not Quite Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 09/28/2000

Sept. 28, 2000

Russell Stewart

Sport: Football
Year: Senior
Position: Tight End
Height: 6-5
Weight: 245
Hometown: Bellevue, WA
High School: Newport
Major: Biological Sciences Major (Graduate Student)

If I fail at something. If I don't succeed, or if I don't live up to my own expectations, and I know I could have done better, that's when I mentally beat myself up. I really can't stand myself for a while, because I know I should have done something better. That's when I get mad at myself. But, if I gave it my best or there's something out of my control and it didn't work out, that's when I just kind of smile. - Russell Stewart

Whether those words ever bring fame to Russell Stewart or not, we all know one thing for sure - that he has plenty of room to smile.

Russell Stewart knows when to be serious and when to have a good time, portraying an attitude that is not often found within the same person. Many in this world are either too stressed or worried about work and responsibilities all of the time, while others are bordering on full hedonism, failing miserably in areas of responsibility and accountability. Stanford's starting tight end, now in his fifth year on The Farm, has found a mix of both worlds and applies them successfully to his life on a daily basis.

"I think if you talked to other people they would say, 'Russell knows when to get the job done, but he also knows when to have a good time and have a few laughs,' said Stewart. "I don't take myself too seriously, but I'm not going to let an opportunity slip away."

Stewart has made the most of his opportunities with the Cardinal, establishing himself as the team's starting tight end and one of its most consistent players through a steady diet of hard work and determination. Stewart has now started 26 of Stanford's last 28 games at tight end. He is not a focal point in Stanford's wide receiver-oriented passing game, but he has managed to haul in 26 catches for 331 yards in his career. After missing the first two games of the 2000 season due to an injury, Stewart picked up a career-high 82 yards receiving on three catches in his 2000 debut versus Texas.

Stewart learned a lot about hard work from his parents, Dan and Diane, growing up in Bellevue, Washington.

"My father always instilled in me an incredibly hard work ethic ever since I was really small," emphasized Stewart. "My parents have been the most influential people in my life. The two greatest parents I could ever have. They did a great job. I don't thank them enough, but I probably should. My parents pushed me to do the best I could, but they don't really have to do that any more. It's just kind of taking off on its own now. I'm super competitive with myself and other people."

Stewart's competitiveness may have shown most during, of all things, a high school basketball career that brightens his smile every time he talks about it.

"Oh, yeah," Stewart responds enthusiastically when asked if he was the classic football player on the basketball floor. "You picked me out right away when I got on the court. Oh God, look at this guy. He's going to foul me a lot, but I did all right."

"The football team always liked it when I played (basketball)," Stewart continued about his prep gridiron teammates. "I always tried to put on a show for them, tried to foul some people really hard."

Stewart, who once banked in a free throw against the top prep team in the state of Washington to win a high school game, began focusing on basketball in junior high school. He keeps his basketball skills sharp by playing pick-up games with other members of the Stanford football team in the off-season and has also played in the "legendary" Cardinal Classic game that serves as a semi-formal off-season hoops contest between members of the football team.

Stanford's starting tight end ... Has started 26 of the last 28 games at the position, including a stretch of 25 straight starts that was interrupted by an injury which forced him to miss the first two games of the 2000 campaign ... Has career totals of 26 receptions for 331 yards and three touchdowns ... Twice been named First Team Academic All-Pac-10.

"They don't keep fouls in the Cardinal Classic," said Stewart with his consistent smile. "That's the beauty of it."

Stewart's consistent humor and good-nature shone through during his entire interview as he continually mentioned his efforts to maintain a balance of hard work and enjoying life.

"I stress out about a lot of things like school and football," admitted Stewart. "I find myself just working so hard. I just try to prepare myself the best I can, and if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. It's something I've tried to change, because I beat myself up too much. When I make a mistake, I'm really hard on myself. I have too many gray hairs all ready. I want to relax a little bit. Sometimes, its better just to smile, laugh it off. I want to keep things in perspective."

Stewart is definitely keeping things in perspective. He will earn his masters degree from Stanford in Biological Sciences next June.

However, consistent with his almost happy-go-lucky attitude, Stewart also says, "People ask me what I see myself doing in 10 years, but I don't even know what I'm going to be doing tonight. I can't really reflect on my life and say this is how I live, or this is my motto, or this is what I've learned, or this is how I've changed. Maybe when I'm 50 you can ask me that."

For the time being, Stewart is being asked to play a big role in Stanford's offense as the team's starting tight end and to help lead the Cardinal back to a second straight Rose Bowl appearance. And if that doesn't happen, what in the world will he do. Well, there's always the Cardinal Classic next spring, or maybe that master's degree will help too.

by Kyle McRae



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