Andrews advocates for youth sports|Former coach, officialinfluenced area athleteson and off playing fields

Published 1:59 am Tuesday, June 16, 2009

By By GREG KATSKI, Staff Writer
Bobby Andrews wants the youth of Washington and Beaufort County to have what they need when it comes to sports. That’s why, at age 73, he is involved with the city’s various youth sports programs.
Andrews retired from his position as athletic-programs supervisor with the Washington Parks and Recreation Department in 2007 after 22 years on the job, but he still coordinates the city’s adult athletic programs and books officials and scorekeepers for a variety of leagues.
Andrews said he comes from an athletic family. He was named to all-conference teams in varsity baseball and basketball for three straight years when he played for Grimesland High School.
After high school, the farm boy from Clark’s Neck Road in Pactolus Township attended East Carolina University until his young wife became pregnant. He gave up college to provide for his new family, and soon he started coaching and officiating in the area.
“I’ve been on all sides of the fence — as a coach, umpire, basketball official,” he said.
Andrews said he found his life’s calling in coaching and officiating youth sports.
“God’s got me here to help children that don’t have anybody — that want somebody to love them,” he said.
The Daily News asked Andrews about his involvement with youth sports.
1) Why do you think it is important for the youth of Washington and Beaufort County to be involved in sports?
“I feel like if a child, for an hour or two hours, is at the ball field, whether it be baseball, football or basketball, they’re there when they could be down the street doing something wrong. That’s why I think it’s very important from that standpoint. It’s true some of these kids will go and play middle-school ball and high-school ball, but every kid should be able to participate.
“My concern with sports during this day and time, and I’m not saying when I was coming up everything was perfect, but we don’t have many role models anymore. That really concerns me.
“We have coaches, too, that some of them say they’re for the children, but they’re for themselves.
“I’ve always said this: Would you rather your child play for a coach that is hot-headed, don’t show good sportsmanship, don’t teach them anything and they win every game? Or, would you rather them play for this coach that don’t win a game, but teaches them sportsmanship and something about life that’ll help them when they get older and get a job.”
2) How have the recreation department’s athletic programs been affected by the economy? Do you foresee any budget-cutting measures in the future?
“We’ve been fortunate.
“Each participant has to sign up to play. Some of them have their struggles.
“With the recreation department, when we were in charge, we never turned anybody away. We got different clubs or churches to pay for their fees, and most of the leagues are doing that now, too.”
3) How and when was the Seventh Street Recreation Center renamed after you?
“I’m proud of it, I really am.
“It was dedicated May 9, 2005.
“They petitioned it, and brought it to City Council and it passed unanimously.
“I’m just so proud of it, that people thought I was worthy of it. I’m glad I’m still here to see it.
“And, also, too, the basketball leagues give out an overall sportsmanship award in my honor, too. And, then, also, the scholarship for softball.
“So, even in the hard times, I’ve got God.
“These awards, they mean so much to me, from the bottom of my heart. When I tell people that, and this is what they tell me, ‘Mr. Bobby, we’re glad you’re the way you’re because otherwise that wouldn’t be you.’ What you see is what you get. If I know you today, I’m going to know you tomorrow. The road is bumpy some days for me, but I’ve got Jesus.”
4) When was the Bobby Andrews Scholarship program started? Who is eligible for the scholarship?
“The scholarship, that was Manuel Housely, who was a great fast-pitch pitcher. And he used to work at the community college.
“Manuel talked to some people about starting a scholarship in honor of me, and (Mayor Judy Meier Jennette, who is director of public relations for Beaufort County Community College,) liked the idea and that’s the way it started.
“It has gotten big.
“It was set up as a scholarship for Beaufort (County) Community College, but what happened is girls were going elsewhere for college. What we did was still give $1,250, and you can apply two years in a row and get $1,250. If you go to another college, you can get $600 for two years.
5) Do you still keep in touch with former players?
“Most of the teams I was coaching in the women’s league, a lot of them will call me at times.
“Girls that have played in our softball program, especially the ones that get scholarships, most of them will write me and thank me for the scholarship and everything, and call me.”
“Meredith Knox, when she was young, my office used to be here (the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center), but now my office is uptown. But she still comes by and gives me a kiss on the cheek.
“I appreciate it all, too.”