June 23, 2008
by Darren Shimp
After originally hailing from the "city that never sleeps," former Eastern Washington University football player Tom McAndrews became the student-athlete who never slept.
McAndrews finished his tenure at Eastern with an unblemished 4.0 grade point average as a double major in finance and economics. He is a 2003 graduate of Mead High School in Spokane, where he also maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
"You have to manage your time," said McAndrews, who is now working in Bellevue, Wash, after graduating from EWU. "I tried to use all 24 hours of the day. I'm not someone who idles well or watches TV. I like to do things. I may not have slept as much as the next person . . ."
"From the moment he got out of bed he competed -- both in the classroom and on the field," said former EWU tight ends coach Rich Rasmussen, who holds the same position now at Washington State University. "He is just such an extremely high character guy -- very competitive with everything he does."
Born in Red Bank, N.J., McAndrews lived in the New York City borough of Staten Island where most of his family resided. McAndrews picked up the "city that never sleeps" mantra in his five short years on the East Coast. So where's the accent?
"My dad still has the accent pretty thick," said McAndrews, admitting he has no Staten Island in his voice. "My mom lost it a long time ago."
Recently, McAndrews was selected as one of EWU's two recipients of the Big Sky Conference Scholar-Athlete Award for the 2007-08 school year, along with Camille Moseley. Today, McAndrews lives in Seattle and has worked in Bellevue as a portfolio management assistant at U.S. Trust, a subsidiary of Bank of America, for about three months.
The concept of a student-athlete is generally defined as an individual who participates both on the field and in the classroom, however, success in both are not a qualifier for acceptance. Stigmas surround collegiate varsity athletes, with rumblings of easy course loads, more tutors than imaginable at their disposal and sometimes a lax outlook on grades.
But that wasn't the case for McAndrews, who was much more than a student-athlete. He was a role model for his classmates at EWU.
Despite a rigorous schedule of practices, workouts and team travel that took him through all four continental U.S. time zones, McAndrews always found time for his studies and time to help others. His Eagle teammates would often come to him for academic help and he became an unofficial adviser for the football team.
His time on the field included NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoff appearances in 2004, 2005 and 2007. He also had one memorable touchdown catch against UC Davis early in his senior season on Sept. 15, 2007. It was his first of three career touchdowns as an Eagle.
"That felt really, really, really good," said McAndrews, a relentless blocking tight end who had 23 catches for 220 yards in 41 career games. "I looked like an idiot when I celebrated - I saw it on film. I looked like a little kid, but it felt great."
All three scores were tallied in his senior year. But, according to Rasmussen, individual accomplishments were never high on McAndrew's priorities.
"He was never concerned with that," said Rasmussen. "He just wanted to be part of the team, whether it was on special teams or filling in at linebacker. The team was way more important than any of that."
Off the field, the accolades have accumulated in amazing abundance:
- One of 51 members selected to 10th annual Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team and finalist for that organization's postgraduate scholarship
- First team member of the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VIII team
- One of 153 semifinalists for The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) 2007 Draddy Trophy, often referred to as the "Academic Heisman"
- Selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for four consecutive years, and was nominated for a NCAA Postgraduate scholarship
- Was the 2006 recipient of the "Iron Eagle" Award for EWU Football academic and athletic achievement
- Served as a PLUS (Program Leading to Undergraduate Success) Facilitator in Business Law for the EWU Academic Support Center (2006)
- Interned as Community and Economic Development Assistant for the Cheney community/EWU campus development group called Pathways to Progress (2005)
- Volunteered for Harvest Food Bank, Spokane Guild School, Habitat for Humanity and the Cheney School District
His goal is to go to Harvard Business School, however, they only admit 15 percent of the people who apply -- and competition for entry extends far beyond the borders of the Pacific Northwest. McAndrews is getting the full-time work experience he needs to become a viable candidate, as if the previous dozen or so paragraphs weren't enough.
"I don't have it planned out at all," said McAndrews. "I want to see more of the country and the world. But eventually, I would like to come back to the Spokane area."
What words of advice does McAndrews have for any incoming student-athletes?
"I don't think it necessarily should be everyone's goal to get a 4.0.," said McAndrews. "Take advantage of the educational aspect of college -- if you're playing football, you spend a lot of time doing that. But there are just so many different majors you can pick from and so many interesting classes you can take and learn from. Do not get so bogged down with everything else that you miss out on a chance to take advantage of what the school has to offer for you."