On Deutschman’s 50th birthday on June 24, he interviewed to be the director of athletics at Jefferson College. Two days later he was offered the job and the college made it official at its Board of Trustees meeting on July 25. Since then Deutschman has taken a 17-day vacation to California with his family. While on the trip, his house in Weston, Fla. sold in two days, and he has a contract on a home in Eureka.
“That’s the craziest five weeks I’ll ever have, but in a positive way,” said Deutschman, who was busy packing at his home in Florida on Friday. “My interest in the job was peripheral because it’s close to my family. I’m the last of seven kids so I have a huge nucleus of people spread out through the Midwest.”
Packing for a long move takes strategy. Deutschman said his wife, Shawn, told him he has three options.
“I can either throw it away, donate it, or keep it,” he said.
Deutschman had been the director of intercollegiate athletics at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., since 2011. He was the head baseball coach there from 2002-2013. During his time as coach, Deutschman’s resume indicates he received state, district and regional coach of the year awards.
Shawn works for the federal government and they have two children, Matthew, 13, and Luke, 11. Deutschman said he’s lived in Florida since he was 10 when his family moved there from Minnesota. He said he’s not going to experience the culture shock of moving from a state renowned for its sandy beaches and sunshine to the middle of the country as much as his sons.
He described his move as starting a new chapter in his professional life.
“I fell in love with the opportunity to be at a place where the president of the college (Dena McCaffrey) is 100 yards away and I can talk to her at any point,” Deutschman said. “Athletics seems to be really embedded in the culture there. It seemed to be a nice place to be a part of. Missouri is not south Florida. My kids are in for a culture shock.”
The Deutschmans landed on Eureka because it’s centrally located to their commutes to work. Robert was unaware that the largest theme park in the state is literally in his backyard. He hopes to close on their new home by Aug. 30.
“We found middle ground in Eureka,” he said.
Deutschman’s last day at Broward is Friday. He’ll be staying in campus housing at Jefferson College for at least a week. Viking Woods is home to many of the athletes Deutschman will oversee.
“I’m Rodney Dangerfield in ‘Back to School,’” he said with a laugh, referring to the 1980s comedy.
The half day Deutschman spent at Jeffco during his interview convinced him he was making the right choice to uproot his family.
“I’ve told people the great part, at the end of the interview, I was taken to an open forum and the search committee wanted to meet me and ask questions,” Deutschman said. “It was Monday at 4 p.m. and 25 or 30 people were there to meet me. For me that was unbelievable.”
Broward is sprawling, with three different campuses and 60,000 students. Jefferson College had 4,882 students enrolled in 2018-2019. Deutschman said athletics at Broward were a small part of student life.
“I love Broward College. A part of me will always bleed blue and silver,” Deutschman said. “I’m proud of what we did. It’s a huge school. Athletics fills a role there but it’s huge. The intimacy of Jefferson is what I liked.”
In 2006, Broward reached the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. Deutschman was the head coach of the baseball team when he had a chance encounter with now retired Jefferson College director of athletics Harold Oetting. That meeting was on Deutschman’s mind when he was going through the interview process.
“He introduced himself to me and we talked for a half hour,” Deutschman said. “That’s always stuck with me.”
Deutschman’s involvement in baseball is far reaching. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale in 1993, he started his professional career as assistant baseball coach and recruiting coordinator there. In 1997, the Kansas City Royals hired him to be an associate scout. He did that for two years before going to Broward as an assistant baseball coach and recruiting coordinator. Deutschman earned a master’s degree in 2016 in athletic administration from Concordia University in Minneapolis.
Jefferson College’s baseball team is one of the most successful in the country. The Vikings have made it to the World Series four times, most recently in 2018. Deutschman said he’s excited to work with all of the coaches and athletes in Hillsboro. The school offers baseball, women’s basketball, men and women’s soccer, softball and women’s volleyball.
“On a personal level baseball will always hit me. That will never go away,” Deutschman said. “One of the things I enjoyed about getting off the field was I enjoyed working with other sports. It’s hard to remove yourself from a coaching perspective when I watch the teams play.”
As for his vision about the future of Jefferson College athletics? Deutschman said give him 100 days.
“Let me speak to the athletic staff and get their input on how we can improve within our means,” he said. “Traditionally, it’s a flagship athletic department. For me this is not a short-term move. If they’ll have me, it’s a last stop for me. My hope is to transition it into a better version of what it is.”