(Niagara University is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
To jumpstart a career in college athletics, sports management students need an education that gives them individualized attention and the opportunity to earn plenty of practical experience. Andrew Chesebro, the current assistant director of marketing and communications with the Harvard Varsity Club, found both at Niagara University.
Chesebro completed his undergraduate study at Niagara University in 2007. A Central New York native, he saw a sibling and family friends attend Niagara and felt attracted to the wholesome atmosphere that the school presented.
“Niagara always had that family feel to it and was a place that I felt was going to allow me to grow in the ways that I was hoping to grow,” Chesebro said of his decision to attend Niagara. “The sport management program was a perfect fit for me. I immediately fell in love and realized that was what I wanted to pursue in college. I was very fortunate to have great professors who were super encouraging and were very much engaged with our wellbeing and helping us achieve what we wanted.”
Chesebro also spent the duration of his undergraduate career working in the athletics department at Niagara, gaining the firsthand knowledge that proved invaluable to his growth as a professional. As an intern within athletics communications, Chesebro updated the athletic department’s website, wrote event recaps, and learned various stat keeping systems. He then worked within the marketing department as a junior and senior, learning the ropes of game presentation and ticket sales.
“I got exposure to the many things that go on from a marketing and revenue generation side of the athletics department,” Chesebro said of that experience. “It really opened my eyes to a whole industry that I didn’t really know existed. Coming into school, I was a little naive as to what exactly sport management entails and all the different opportunities that were available in this industry. I also made a ton of friendships with fellow students who were performing similar roles and having similar experiences as me, and those friendships have continued to this day.”
After graduation, Chesebro spent four years in athletic communications at American University before moving on to Harvard University, where he spent five years in the athletics communications office of the Crimson as an assistant director and associate director. He is now in his fourth year as the assistant director of marketing & communications for the Harvard Varsity Club.
The Harvard Varsity Club is an independent nonprofit which works in partnership with Harvard Athletics to provide support to current student-athletes in the form of a career services program. The club creates networking opportunities for current student-athletes to connect with alumni and learn more about fields that they’re looking to gain experience in. They also work with alumni to keep them connected to Harvard Athletics through reunions and other events.
“For me in collegiate athletics, it’s all about the relationships and experiences of the student-athletes,” Chesebro said. “We are here to serve the student-athletes. Our number one goal is to enhance their experiences by integrating the opportunities afforded them through athletics with the educational mission of the university. That includes providing resources, giving guidance, helping to tell their stories, whatever we can do to help enhance the student-athlete experience and make sure that when they graduate after four years, they look back on this time fondly.”
Chesebro is currently earning a master’s degree from Harvard and acknowledges how his time at Niagara prepared him to move forward professionally and academically.
“I think what best prepared me was the balance of having a course load with practical application and professors that had real world experiences from earlier in their career that they could lean on to enhance the lessons that we were learning in class,” Chesebro said. “Combining that with my own firsthand experience working in the athletics department proved to be invaluable to me, especially early in my career to give myself a leg up on the competition and to give myself a better perspective on a role in collegiate athletics.”
Chesebro’s career in sports may not have started without a start at Niagara University. With the amount of opportunities available to students still today, the school continues to produce the future leaders of the sports industry.
“There are opportunities at Niagara to gain that real world experience and opportunities to network with industry professionals throughout Western New York and the country that are going to be unparalleled,” he said.