The National Lacrosse League is home to the best box lacrosse players in the world. They are at the top of their game, put on stellar athletic performances and have diehard, competitive attitudes.
With lacrosse action suspended until the pandemic has subsided, NLL players have been missing the game fiercely. Thankfully, they have stayed busy in their day-to-day lives. They’ve spent more time with friends and family, honed different types of skills, and remained grounded during this tumultuous moment in history.
Gloves Off is a 13-installment series that peels back the layers of our athletes to uncover more about their lifestyle and personal lives, learning about their hobbies, passions and more, with the goal of making them inherently more relatable to their fans.
Life is pretty sunny these days for Andrew Kew. The just-turned-25-year-old is living it up in the Sunshine State of Florida, coaching lacrosse and playing golf.
The Oakville, Ontario native flew the coop after high school to play DII lacrosse for the University of Tampa, and has made the city his home. He completed his undergrad in business management and stayed on to finish a Master’s Degree in Professional Communications.
“Tampa is a great city with a lot of opportunity. Maybe it’s because of the weather, but people just seem to be happier here,” Kew says. “I’ve been fortunate to have warm weather for the last six years.”
He spends summers at home with family, but Ontario summers are much too brief. The fall/winter/spring in the perennially sunny southern U.S. mean he’s warm year-round. It’s great for someone like Kew, who doesn’t like to spend too much time indoors.
“If I’m not on the golf course, I’ll be at the beach or on a boat,” he says.
Kew is already a household name among NLL fans despite having his rookie season with the New England BlackWolves cut short by the pandemic. The second-overall pick from 2019 scored 15 goals and 27 points in just 10 games and is poised to become one of the league’s superstars, though he’ll now do that in Albany.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be with the Albany FireWolves,” he said. “The new ownership is great. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the arena and fanbase. We’ll be helping to grow lacrosse in the area.”
Kew’s heading to Albany this summer to scout the area before the season starts and get the lay of the land while he coaches the team’s youth program. They’ve already got tons of kids signed up in multiple age groups who will be getting “the full box experience,” he says. “It’ll be heavily focused on development with scrimmages and games and league play.”
He expects teammates Joe Nardella, Greg Downing and Joe Resetarits to help out since they’re all close by.
Until then, you can find Kew on one of Tampa’s many golf courses, either playing or watching.
“I was fortunate to attend the Valspar Championship last year,” he says, which is a stop on the PGA Tour at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club.
His favourite place to golf is Streamsong Resort. “Oh, it’s phenomenal place to spend a weekend,” he says. “Spas, private ranges, wide fairways, 150-foot greens. It’s in the middle of nowhere but that’s what makes it so nice. It actually feels a bit like Canada – most Florida golf is very flat and filled with a ton of water.”
He’s never bored. “Tampa is a big hub city without that busy city feeling. I’m 25 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.”
Other favourite activities include attending NHL Lightning games, or spending time at Weeki Wachee, a natural spring where he can paddleboard or kayak and hang out with the manatees.
He hasn’t been over to Orlando to visit Disney, though. “Not since I was four or five,” he laughs.
Kew’s family spent summer vacations in Florida when he was a child, so moving there for school wasn’t a big culture shock.
“When you come down as a Canadian and visit, you’re blown away that there are all these small lizards running around. Lizards run over my feet every day and I’m used to it now. I barely notice. And there are alligators on the golf courses. I’ve been probably 20 feet away from one while hitting a golf ball. I was a little worried; I think I shanked it.”
Kew fell in love with the University of Tampa campus and was drawn to the city by its warm climate. He starred for the Spartans for four years, setting the all-time NCAA Division II goals record and was named All-American three times. He joined the staff as an offensive coach after graduation, replacing Chris Burdick who is now the head coach at nearby Webber University, where Kew’s little brother Alex plays lacrosse.
“Having Alex here is awesome,” Kew says. “He visits me on the weekends. Our parents are pumped that we have these opportunities but they definitely miss us. With Covid especially it’s been tough. I couldn’t get home for Christmas last year. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from home.”
Kew believes that Alex could one day play in the NLL too.
“He’s really dedicated and I’ve been impressed with the work he’s put in. I can see his passion for the game; it’s similar to mine.”
When Kew isn’t on the golf course, at the beach, or coaching at UT, he’s coaching youth lacrosse programs around the city.
“I actually started a box youth program here,” he explains. “I’ve also done a bunch of lacrosse-related camps with Signature Lacrosse and I’ll bounce around to a bunch of different youth clubs and help out at their practices.”
He says that coaching is an attractive option once his playing days are over, far in the future.
“I’m not trying to look too far ahead, but I love coaching. I could potentially see myself doing some sort of role like that. I’m going to go into a field of work that best suits my love for the game.”
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