Andy Stewart was one of the original T4A staff members who helped create Kickball for All in 2011; he’s played in K4A tournaments ever since. In 2014 he became a team captain, and his team The Test Takers took home the winner’s trophy. Although he has since moved back to his home state in Michigan, Andy travels back to Boston every year to take part in our kickball tournament – the true definition of a “team player”! He shared with us the origins of K4A, advice for new players, and his predictions for this year’s winners.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and moved to Boston with my wife in 2004. When we came to Boston, I found a job at Codman Academy as the Technology Director. I have always had an interest in technology – however, I knew this wasn’t something I wanted to do long term. I decided to make a career shift to Investment Management, so in 2009, I graduated from Boston College with a degree in Finance. I remained heavily involved with Codman Academy, which allowed me to meet Mark when he began to run tutorial at the school in 2008. He was aware of my new career path, and in 2010, I was hired as the Director of Finance and Operations for Tutors for All. Despite having since moved back to Michigan with my family, my dedication to Tutors for All has not diminished, and the organization will forever be an important part of my life.
Since you’ve been a part of K4A from the beginning, I have to ask- why kickball? Why not some other sport?
Kickball is a sport that most people know the general rules. Unlike baseball or football, it’s easy to explain and doesn’t require intense practicing and training. You have to admit, pitching a kickball is much easier than pitching a baseball. Because the sport is so inclusive, we thought it would be perfect for our event!
What is your favorite part about the event?
Each year when I know it’s almost time for Kickball for All, I immediately start looking forward to seeing Mark and the rest of my old co-workers. It’s always nice to catch up with them since I don’t get to see them often. I love watching the crowd of people grow each year as more people get involved with Tutors for All.
Is there anything you would recommend to people thinking about playing this year?
There are two things: the first thing I always tell people is that they shouldn’t worry too much about the mechanics of kickball. It doesn’t matter how well you play or if you’re inexperienced. The important thing is that you have fun, meet people, eat food and learn about the organization.
The second is that it’s always good to have different kinds of people at the event, especially former students who have experienced our programs first-hand. I like to encourage former and current students to attend the event, though many feel like they won’t be able to raise enough of money. In those situations, I tell students that any donation is helpful, and that the important thing is to have fun, meet people, and spread awareness about Tutors for All.
What has been the key to your success when it comes to raising so much money for this event?
It’s beneficial when you have co-captains who are actively helping you raise a team goal. In the past, Bryan Potts, Shane Magner and I co-captained a team called The Test Takers, and together we raised more money than we would have individually. When trying to get donations, I seek help from my parents, in-laws, relatives, friends and co-workers. I have built a strong networking platform where I’m able to send over 50 emails, and if half of those people donate then it’s a success. I’m often able to get large donations from my business contacts, and all of the small donations I receive from others start to add up.Then before you know it, I’ve reached my goal! I would rather have 1,000 people giving $10 than have 1 person giving $1,000. Being able to spread the word about Tutors for All is an essential part of Kickball for All.
Lastly, which team do you think is going to win Kickball for All 2016?
Well to be honest, last year I didn’t think we were going to win. It ultimately came down to the last five minutes when I was able to raise a couple of hundred dollars by asking people on the field to donate. This year, I know it’s going to come down to Mark and I (unless Bob Hornstein comes from left field). But my team will still win.