5 questions for Andrew Tew: Program coordinator has immediate impact on athletics
Athletics program coordinator Andrew Tew joined Polk State College in March. During his brief stint in the athletics department, Tew was instrumental in modernizing the College’s athletics venue, promoting track and field teams, and organizing events.
Prior to his arrival, Tew spent six years at Southeastern University in Lakeland as assistant director of sports communications. Tew was responsible for promoting and marketing the institution’s 19 athletic programs through social media, website maintenance, photography and play-by-play.
A graduate of Florida State University, Tew takes pride in his work and is dedicated to the overall success of the athletics department and the College. Tew resides in Lakeland with his wife Sydni and daughter Andi.
Where does your passion for athletics come from?
My passion for athletics started with my relationship with my father. So many fundamental memories with him revolve around watching a college or professional sporting event in our living room. Our family has also always attended sporting events together as a form of family bonding, especially Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays games.
I think my family ties to athletics, especially my dad, is what sparked my passion for them. My dad and I still talk weekly about NFL, MLB, and college football happenings. My dad has also always been a fan of every school I attended or worked at and Polk State was no different.
Of the over 300 sporting events I’ve broadcast at Southeastern, there are very few that my dad missed tuning in to and if he didn’t tune in, he was probably attending in person. There isn’t a sporting event that I watch or work on that I don’t think of.
With athletics below the professional or NCAA Division I level, it can often be difficult for student-athletes or teams to receive the recognition, media coverage, or community support they deserve. What is Polk State doing to reinforce these things?
I think there are many factors as to why student-athletes at smaller colleges and universities aren’t getting the coverage they deserve. I think it’s important to point out that the Polk State student-athlete absolutely deserves fair coverage compared to the student-athlete in a major Division I program, because the hours invested in the classroom, on the field training and in the weight room are the same and sometimes even more.
However, a major problem I see with smaller institutions is that there is no one at these schools in place to promote and tell the stories of their student-athletes and coaches. Where there should be a bridge of a sports information manager, media relations specialist or social media manager between the programs and the community, often there is nothing. Unfortunately, many administrators at these schools either don’t think they have the resources to invest in such a position or simply don’t see the value in it.
Fortunately, at Polk State, President Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti and the rest of our administration see the value in having our student-athletes well promoted within our community and beyond. In the short time I have been here I have seen our department, under Director of Sports Stanley Cromartie, do a tremendous overhaul of the athletics website to a more engaging platform with Sidearm Sports, launch live online streaming of all our home sporting events, and host the inaugural Athletics Fundraising Gala, which not only raised a plethora of financial resources, but also promoted our programs to influential people in our community. These are just a few examples of how Polk State College prioritizes promoting our outstanding student-athletes and giving them the coverage they deserve.
You worked closely with NCAA Division I athletes while at Florida State University and worked at NAIA Southeastern University before coming to Polk State. What is unique or interesting about junior college athletics compared to other levels?
I think one of the things about junior college athletics is that it’s more of a grassroots operation than athletics at the four-year-old level. Coming from the Southeast, most of our student-athletes were transfer students. However, at Polk State, we mostly welcome real freshmen straight out of high school.
Being able to observe the player and the impact on personal development that our coaches have with 18 and 19 year olds is something incredibly special and I think it’s especially unique at the junior college level. I also respect the approach our coaches have to preparing our youngsters for their next step after Polk, whether that means putting them in a position to compete in a four-year institution – both athletically and academically. – or even prepare them for a different career. option if they decide to end their playing career after Polk.
You have a background in sports communication. As you transitioned into a more administrative role, what were the most important things you learned? What were the biggest challenges?
I learned so much going from a purely communications role at Southeastern to an administrative role here at Polk. I learned how many behind-the-scenes details go into the proper functioning of an athletic department. I am grateful that I was able to learn under AD Cromartie’s guidance and gave me the freedom and confidence to gain experience in many different areas.
I think sports eligibility was one of my favorite administrative roles where I was lucky enough to grow up. This is very thorough but incredibly important for our student-athletes to compete. I think one of the biggest challenges for me comes from prioritizing tasks and having to figure out what needs to be done today, tomorrow or later.
I like to think of creative ways to continue to grow as a department and better promote our programs, but I also have to manage my time well and make sure that the fine paperwork that is essential to the smooth running of our department is supported.
What is the most rewarding part of working in athletics?
The most rewarding part of working in athletics is seeing the transformation and growth of student-athletes in your programs from when they first set foot on campus to when they head into the next chapter of their life. My “job” is basically to help make their time as a student-athlete at Polk as meaningful as possible to them and to tell their story.
Being able to help our young people feel seen, valued and prepared for what comes after athletics is a big blessing to me.