Andrew Roberts

Diagnosed with autism, Andrew Roberts ’26 was told he might never speak. Now, this Park scholar is leveling the playing field.

Andrew Roberts (right)

Andrew Roberts '26 (right) has used his journalism prowess to cover countless sporting events, including the Special Olympics USA Games. (Photos submitted)

Few five-year-olds read the lineup for baseball games. But it was an especially momentous achievement for Park scholar Andrew Roberts ’26,  who was diagnosed with autism as a young child. By age 10, he had launched his own blog, Boston Sports Mania, and shortly after, attended a broadcasting camp. By then he had gained not only a deep love of sports but also a winning approach to life. “I know that I can do anything if I put my mind to it,” said Andrew, “because at one point I was told that I might never speak, and here I am going into communication.” 

Andrew has also found confidence and inspiration through his work as a Flutie fellow for the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, where he’s gained mentors—including IC alumnus and ESPN feature producer Joshua Vorensky  ’11, News Anchor for CBS6 (WRGB) Tom Eschen ’11,  Patriots broadcaster Bob Socci—and opportunities, such as covering the Special Olympics. In turn, Andrew has served as a spokesperson for the foundation and has raised over $20,000 for the organization through events he held during high school and merchandise he sold through his sports blog.

“I know that I can do anything if I put my mind to it, because at one point I was told that I might never speak, and here I am going into communication.” 

On Air—Before Day One  

Andrew sought a college where he could immerse himself in his passion for sports media and take advantage of as many hands-on learning opportunities as possible.   

After learning he’d earned a Park Scholar Award, Andrew toured IC virtually and then went in person a few weeks later. Right from the start, the Ithaca community and campus made an impression on him—most especially the professional level of the Park School’s television and radio studios, which Andrew viewed as being on par with ESPN (a place he’d visited as a Flutie fellow). But he was most surprised and thrilled during his tour as a prospective student when he not only sat in on a show but also got behind a camera. 

“I knew if they were giving experience to someone who wasn't even a student yet,” said Andrew, “I'd be able to do whatever I wanted to do right out of the gate. They really just confirmed everything I had thought about Ithaca when I was able to come in person.” Now that he officially works in the studio, Andrew is referred to as “the guy [who] was on air since Day Negative One.”   

Also during that momentous tour, Andrew met the sports media professor Ellen J. Staurowsky, who would become one of his most inspiring role models. "She has insight on sports that nobody else I know has,” said Andrew.  

Leveling the Playing Field  

At IC, Andrew has now learned about every position in the studio—from writing to crew and live broadcasting—in only his first year. He also found an inclusion course taught by assistant professor Jessie Kanowitz Tonjes that gave him a safe space to open up about his experience with autism. 

Andrew’s ultimate goal involves blending his love of sports media and service—and finding ways to give back to the communities that have helped him to thrive. “When I found the Park scholarship, I just saw the overlap between media and service. That’s something I’ve been passionate about,” said Andrew.  

In keeping with the Park scholarship’s emphasis on service and leadership in the media, recently Andrew started working to create promotional content for ACEing Autism at Cornell University—an organization he was involved with as a kid. He hopes to have an impact on the program on a national scale.  

“I’d say my hope is as much as possible for people with disabilities to have the same sports experiences as anyone else,” explained Andrew.   

Andrew’s next move? He just scored his own talk show on  VIC radio, a rare feat for a first-year student. Cities of Champions, pits a Boston sports fan (Andrew) against a New York sports fan. According to Andrew, “If you like to hear trash talk, if you like to hear fun sports debates, Cities of Champions is the place!”  

Forewords

A collection of introductions to the Ithaca College story—about those who continue to write it.
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