By Carlos Toro
The NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest sporting events in the United States. The excitement envelops the nation in a way very few events can.
For Rider junior accounting major Cory Andrews, he not only got to watch it, he also got to work in it.
Andrews provided live stats at the NCAA Women’s Tournament Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where perennial powerhouse Connecticut, which won its fourth consecutive national championship.
It is just another sporting event the accounting major can check off. Many of these experiences come from his work with Rider Athletics in the sports information department as a public address announcer.
“Getting to call stats for Connecticut was crazy,” Andrews said. “It was the most complete basketball game I have ever seen. It’s hard to concentrate on that. On Sunday, I got to escort Connecticut and Texas to their locker rooms so I even got to talk to the Connecticut starters and Head Coach Geno Auriemma. It was a neat experience talking about coffee with him.”
Some of his roles include writing up game stats as they are happening, and assisting Sports Information Director Bud Focht and Assistant Sports Information Director Brian Solomon.
There are some occasions where Andrews would not only get to work games off-campus, but out of the region as well, such as travelling with the softball team when they went to Florida for the Rebel Spring Games from March 13-17.
In Florida, Andrews was in charge of doing live stats for Rider’s games, as well as updating Twitter with results. It wasn’t all work, though, as he got to see an MLB Spring Training game.
“Usually, when you’re working games such as softball or baseball, whether it would be with Solomon and Focht, what they say usually goes as to what stat to call,” Andrews said. “For me to do everything when I was in Florida was a really refreshing experience. I would do it again.”
Solomon said that Andrews works extremely well and that he is one of those students that he can tell is going to be very successful when he leaves Rider.
“Cory seamlessly works with those his age and with the adult professionals,” Solomon said. “Whether it is working with one of the basketball coaches, helping the radio announcers, helping a reporter do research or working as a team with the rest of the student workers, you kind of forget he is only 21 years old. We rely on him more and more, and give him more challenging things to do because he has proven he can handle them.”
Andrews had several accolades coming out of high school: student council president for three years and golf captain. Those accolades, he thought, were going to be enough for him to get accepted into Penn.
Unfortunately, the school did not grant his application, something that Andrews is now using as inspiration.
“I applied for Penn, early decision, but that didn’t work out and so that has always been a motivating factor for me, that is to prove them wrong,” Andrews said. “Even when I applied to schools like St. Joe’s, which was my number two school, UPenn stuck out to me. Everything happens for a reason. Their loss.”
Despite the disappointment the rejection gave him, he found a saving grace in Rider, where he has been able to excel. He said that Rider had everything he was looking for when picking out schools to apply to. He previously applied to schools such as Monmouth and Georgetown.
“I wanted a school that was somewhat local and had a small class size,” Andrews said. “I feel like I thrive in that system, and so why change now? Rider checked off everything that I wanted in a university, and while Rider was not the original school I wanted to attend, the school blew me away with its presentation. I’m happy I’m here.”
Outside of his work in Rider athletics, Andrews also created coryandrewssports.com, a website that focuses on analytics and stats in sports. Posts from the website include mock drafts for the NFL, college basketball rankings and MLB seasonal previews.
“I made this site last year when I was a sophomore,” Andrews said. “I wanted something that was not just informational but also could be used as a portfolio of sorts.”
Andrews also has a unique opportunity in helping out a class for Rider’s new sports management major. The class, BUS 450: Contemporary Issues of Sports Management, focuses on analytics for sports management majors.
“Dr. Ira Sprotzer and Dr. Drew Procaccino talked to me in November and they have wanted to start this capstone class, which is the last class any sports management major has to take,” Andrews said. “They wanted to focus on analytics, being how teams focus on it.
“They asked me to think of some ideas to help them with the class. They wanted some sources on where they can find data on things people wouldn’t think of off the top of their head and some interesting projects that students can do.”
While it may sound like doing all of these things would be overwhelming, Andrews welcomes the challenge of managing time. He says he feels comfortable handling a big workload.
“The one good thing is that I have a good memory,” Andrews said. “I wake up and study for my tests or assignments I have during the day and usually do well, and focus my time on my website and think critically on some topics, which kind of puts my mind at ease. I wouldn’t say it’s a grind. In fact, it’s kind of helped me.”
As for a career in sports, Andrews said he wants to work as an executive and use analytics to help improve whatever team he is working for.
“This is something I’ve been grappling with more recently,” Andrews said. “It’s kind of struck me, especially as I go to these events, such as the Sweet 16. I’ve been applying to these teams for these past few months and it’s very hard for me to find one path to go on. Ultimately, I would love to be a general manager for a professional team, whether it would be in football, basketball or baseball, in the distant future. That’s my ultimate goal.”
Andrews described his time at Rider so far as “phenomenal.” The opportunities that he has gotten are not only a blessing for Andrews, but also would not have happened if he had gone to another school.
“I never would have imagined I could do all the things I have done up to now when I came in here as a freshman,” Andrews said. “I initially thought I would do stats for basketball, and I remained hopeful I could do at least that. Doing all the things I’ve done and having the support of everyone here has been unreal. I know I would not have been able to do this if I had gone to a bigger school like Penn.”