From too slow to ACC champ – and Ewers has big plans on, off the track

Andre Ewers has an appreciation for his journey, one that has taken him from Jamaica to South Florida to two junior colleges to Florida State.

It’s because of that path that the FSU star has a vision for his future on the track and in life.

“Track and field, it doesn’t define me,” Ewers said. “I feel one of my purposes on this planet is to really help people and to help them to spark hope inside them to be the best that they can be in anything. Five years from now I see myself having my own training facility and with that facility comes an education part where I’m having people work there on the ACT, because that was my downfall, and helping the community with people who need training. And building a foundation of mine – education before athletics.”

Ewers has a mindset for what he wants to achieve in life. The senior has been shaped by the hardship he has faced, the personal hurdles, to where he is now – the fastest man in the ACC in the 100 and 200 meters the last two years. But the experiences, which include becoming a father and the injuries earlier this season, have made him a better person and a better athlete.

Growing up in Jamaica, Ewers played soccer and tennis. Life in Jamaica was difficult.

“I came from a third-world country to where a lot of people died, poverty, struggling,” said Ewers, who moved from Jamaica with his mom and brother when Andre was in middle school.

He fell in love with track. But he was not quick out of the blocks. He recalls running an 11.77 in the 100 as a ninth-grader, a time that is quite slow for a boy at that age level.

“People on my team were telling me to give up,” Ewers said.

The words “give up” are not in Ewers’ vocabulary. He began strength training, adding 20 pounds of muscle in four years. He did cross country because he is an admitted workaholic when it comes to running. The result? Ewers was the Class 4A runner-up in 2014 in the 100 and 200.

He was destined for LSU until he wasn’t admitted due to his ACT score. Ewers was forced to go the junior-college route, attending South Plains (Texas) in 2015 and Butler (Kan.) in 2017.

“I told myself that sometimes in life you have to go down the stairs at times before you actually go up to a different entrance,” Ewers said. “And I’m just like, ‘This is not my final destination. This is just God giving me a different path.’ I took it day by day, used the resources that I had access to until something better came along.”

He won the NJCAA title in the 100 meters in 2017 and earned 11 junior-college All-American honors in those two seasons. And something better did come along: Florida State.

“I started getting offers but coach Ricky Argro really took an interest in me,” Ewers said. “When I came on my visit, the academic staff was amazing. I really like how they operate. I feel like they will help me get my degree. And coach Rick can take my track and field career to the next level and become a world-class sprinter.”

Andre holds Aiden atop the podium

Ewers has also learned to juggle fatherhood, too. His son, Aiden, is 4 and lives in South Florida. Ewers makes frequent trips back home to visit.

“It’s very difficult even now not to be able to see him all the time,” Ewers said. “I have to make sacrifices and make him a priority. … I wish I could always be there. I talk to him all the time. But in terms of being a father it has helped me and drive me to become a better man.”

Ewers won the 100 at the ACC Championship meet in Charlottesville, Va., a few weeks ago and Aiden was able to watch the live stream on ACC Network Extra. They talked a few minutes later, with Aiden telling Andre, “Daddy, daddy. I just saw you won.” Aiden told his dad that he wanted to be just like him one day. Andre responded that he wanted Aiden to be better than his dad.

After missing a few months with a hamstring injury, Ewers returned later in the outdoor season and saw his times in the 100 shaved from a 10.22 in late April to the 10.06 that earned him the ACC title (he also captured the ACC championship in the 200 with a run of 20.31). It was the second straight season he has captured the ACC outdoors 100 and 200 titles and he is the first Seminole and just the third sprinter in ACC history to do so.

Next up is the NCAA East Regional, which will run Thursday through Saturday in Jacksonville. Ewers will run in the 100 prelims Thursday night and will also run in the 200 and 4×100 relay during the three-day event, where he looks to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships on June 5-8 in Austin, Texas.

The hamstring injury is well in the rear-view mirror now, and Ewers says it was a blessing because his body isn’t beaten up. There is the potential that he could be peaking at the height of the track season and that he could put up a time that’s close to his personal-best 9.98 in the 100 from 2018.

He also feels fortunate to have found a home in Tallahassee, and he has a unique appreciation for his scholarship and the opportunities that it has given to him at FSU.

“Even though you work for it, it’s a privilege that you work for,” Ewers said of his scholarship. “The school didn’t have to give it to you. There’s a lot of people out there that they could have got to the school. Just to have a scholarship to take certain stress off your back and to come to the school and have access to all of these things, that’s a blessing, something you should never take for granted. You should always have an attitude of gratitude as long as you’re here to appreciate what the school is doing for you.”

Ewers has big plans for the weeks ahead. Fast times? That’s the goal. The people who told him to give up track years ago? It’s a good thing Ewers didn’t listen.

“In life the road is never easy,” Ewers said. “Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Everything that you are looking for is inside of you. Unlock that hidden potential.”

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