Cherokee assistant athletic director handling sports suspension during pandemic
At a smaller school such as Fort Collins College, an assistant athletic director does not hold court, but his job might require putting up padding in one. Cherokee Nation citizen Andrew Fletcher, as AAD for facilities, is responsible for facility scheduling, running home game events, gate revenue, physical plant work orders for athletic facilities, and – importantly above 6,000 feet – snow removal. FORT LEWIS COLLEGE
DURANGO, Colo. – With the spread of COVID-19, a sports-less country has Cherokee Nation citizen Andrew Fletcher, and others whose careers involve sporting events, spending a lot of hours at home.
“There are a lot of things we can control as athletic administrators to make the student athlete experience better, whether it be working a few more hours to finish a task or stepping up our effort when issues arise and working towards a solution,” said Fletcher, who serves as assistant athletic director for facilities as Fort Lewis College, an NCAA Division II school. “When something like the COVID-19 pandemic comes along it’s hard to accept because the issue is so big, it’s out of our control. All we can do is take the advice of the professionals in charge of making sure we don’t contribute to making the situation worse. In this case it meant cancelling the rest of our spring seasons. The day-to-day has been changing since our spring seasons were cancelled.”
In his third year at FLC, the 28-year-old oversees scheduling at campus athletic facilities and serves as game administrator for home athletic events. He supervises 28 student employees on game days; is responsible for setup and teardown, admissions revenue, ticket sales and season passes; and halftime games and events.
He is now be working from home until at least April 30.
“The challenges will be working over email and hoping the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t extend into the summer,” Fletcher said. “Some of our teams’ camps and fundraising events have already been cancelled due to the current social distancing suggestions through April 30. All of our teams depend on these camps and events to be able to operate. I will also be working on getting ready for the fall semester by preparing job postings for event staff and internships.”
Fletcher said that as recently as March 9, he and his colleagues were trying to dodge inclement conditions. The bad news continued to pile up, starting with word of the NBA’s since-abandoned plans to play games without fans, the NBA and NHL suspending their seasons, the NCAA cancelling the men’s and women’s championship basketball tournaments, and the ban – now extended – on all athletic competitions within the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, of which FLC is a member.
“In only four days we went from trying to figure out if we needed to move our softball games because of bad weather, to the rest of the spring season being cancelled,” he said. “The only way to describe the feeling I have for our spring student athletes is heartbroken, especially for our seniors.”
His whole life, Fletcher has loved sports. He participated in baseball, basketball, football, softball and track and field before gravitating toward soccer at Stilwell High School in Oklahoma. He was team captain as a senior and was part of the only Stilwell team to win a playoff game, beating Miami 2-0 in 2010.
After college, he held a position on the FLC athletic event staff. He returned to Stilwell as an assistant soccer coach before heading to the University of Central Oklahoma. He completed an internship with youth performance in Norman, Oklahoma, and was working as a personal trainer when his wife took a job at FLC in 2017. Fletcher interned as an event coordinator while pursuing his graduate degree online at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He was awarded the title of coordinator in July, and promoted to assistant AD four months later.
FLC is a public liberal arts school on the site of a former military fort that was converted to a boarding school for American Indians.
“Our student population is currently 41 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, representing 177 tribes and Native Alaskan villages,” Fletcher said. “One-third of students at FLC are the first in their family to attend college. Being a first-generation college student and Cherokee gives me the unique opportunity of being able to relate to a decent amount of students on FLC’s campus. I am also one of only six American Indian AADs across all three of the NCAA’s divisions and the only one in the RMAC.”