Program Coordinator for Athletics Andrew Tew joined Polk State College in March. During his brief time in the Athletics Department, Tew has played an instrumental role in modernizing the College’s athletics site, promoting the athletics teams, and organizing events.
Prior to his arrival, Tew spent six years at Southeastern University in Lakeland as Assistant Director of Athletic Communications. Tew was responsible for promoting and marketing the institution’s 19 athletics 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 dad. So many core memories with him revolve around watching a college or professional sporting event in our living room. Our family also always attended sporting events together as a form of family bonding, especially Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays games.
I think my familial ties to enjoying athletics, specifically with my dad are what ignited by passion for them. My dad and I still talk about the ongoings of the NFL, MLB, and college football on a weekly basis. My dad has also always been a fan of every school where I have attended or worked and Polk State has been no different.
Out of the over 300 sporting events I broadcasted at Southeastern, there are very few my dad missed tuning in to and if he wasn’t tuning in, he was likely attending in person. There is not an athletic event I watch or work where I do not think about him.
With athletics below the professional level or NCAA Division I, it can often be hard for student-athletes or teams to receive the recognition, media coverage, or community support they deserve. What is Polk State doing to bolster these things?
I think there are many factors that go into why student-athletes at smaller colleges and universities do not receive the coverage they deserve. I think it is important to emphasize that the student-athlete at Polk State absolutely does deserve equitable coverage to the student-athlete at a major Division I program because the hours invested in the classroom, on the practice field, and in the weight room are the same and sometimes even more.
However, a major issue I see with smaller institutions is that there is no one at those 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 director, media relations specialist, or social media manager between the programs and the community, there is often nothing. Sadly, many administrators at these schools either do not feel they have the resources to invest in such a position or they simply do not see the value in them.
Thankfully, at Polk State, President Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti and the rest of our administration does 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 the leadership of Athletics Director Stanley Cromartie, make a tremendous athletics website redesign to a more engaging platform with Sidearm Sports, launch online live streaming of all of our home athletic events, and host the inaugural Athletics Fundraising Gala, which not only raised a plethora of financial resources but also promoted our programs to people of influence in our community. These are just a few examples of how Polk State College is prioritizing promoting our exceptional student-athletes and giving them the coverage they deserve.
You worked closely covering NCAA Division I athletes while you were at Florida State University and worked at NAIA Southeastern University before coming to Polk State. What’s something that is unique or interesting about junior college athletics compared to other levels?
I think one thing that is special about junior college athletics is that it is more of a grassroots operation than athletics at the four-year level. Coming from Southeastern, most of our student-athletes were transfer students. However, at Polk State we mostly bring in true freshmen right out of high school.
Getting to watch the player and personal developmental impact our coaches get to have with 18- and 19-year-olds is something incredibly special and I think is mostly unique to the junior college level. I also respect the approach our coaches have in preparing our young people for their next step after Polk, whether that is putting them in a position to compete at a four-year institution — both athletically and academically — or even preparing them for a different career option if they decide to end their playing career after Polk.
Your background is in athletics communications. As you have transitioned into more of an administrative role, what are some of the most important things you’ve learned? What have been the biggest challenges?
I have learned so much in transitioning from a purely communications role at Southeastern, to an administrative role here at Polk. I have learned how many behind-the-scenes details go into making an athletic department run successfully. I am thankful to be able to learn under the leadership of AD Cromartie and for him giving me the freedom and trust to gain experience in many different areas.
I think athletic eligibility has been one of my favorite administrative roles where I have had the chance to grow. It is very detail-oriented but incredibly important for our student-athletes to be able to compete. I think one of the biggest challenges for me has just been prioritizing tasks and having to determine what needs to get done today, tomorrow, or further down the road.
I enjoy thinking of creative ways we can continue to grow as a department and better promote our programs, but I also must manage my time well and make sure the nitty gritty administrative tasks that are essential to keeping our department running smoothly are taken care of.
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 the student-athletes in your programs from the first time they step foot on campus to when they head on to the next chapter of their lives. My “job” is essentially to help make their time as a student-athlete at Polk the most meaningful it can be for them and help tell their story.
Being able to help our young people feel seen, valued, and prepared for what comes after athletics is a great blessing to me.