Professor trades basketball court for classroom
An assistant professor in political science reveals his love for basketball led him to play professionally in Ireland and his native Scotland before obtaining his doctorate in politics.
Andrew Sanders was one of 30 new hires in 2016 when Texas A&M University-San Antonio was progressively expanding. He earned a doctorate degree in politics at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Sanders teaches Terrorism and Political Violence, International Relations and Federal Government at A&M-SA.
Before his career in teaching, Sanders played for two major basketball leagues professionally in Scotland and Ireland for roughly seven years.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sanders discovered his passion for sports while attending Boroughmuir High School. He originally began his athletic career playing rugby. An injury during a rugby game his senior year, resulting in a broken collarbone and finger, swayed Sanders into switching athletic outlets, seeking something a little less aggressive. Standing just shy of 7 feet tall, he discovered an obvious recreational alternative.
“After that, I kind of stopped playing rugby and just picked up basketball and started going from there,” Sanders said.
Throughout his college career attending Edinburgh Napier University and Queen’s University Belfast, he discovered a love for basketball.
He began playing with clubs in Edinburgh. While pursuing his doctorate, Sanders received an offer in 2006-2007 to play in an Irish league called the Belfast Stars. After a year in the Stars, he moved back to Scotland and played with the Scottish Rocks and got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play professionally.
The Scottish Rocks went to the playoffs in 2008. Although they did not win, Sanders won great experiences and memories throughout his professional career. The end of the season was bittersweet. The end of his competitive career brought many new opportunities, and Sanders couldn’t wait for the next chapter to begin outside of basketball.
“After playing six days a week for a whole season, when it’s finally over, you can’t help but feel a sense of relief,” Sanders said, who played as a forward for the Rocks and the Stars.
After graduating with his doctorate in 2008, Sanders sought opportunities in the United States, which led him to Seattle University to teach history for roughly a year and a half. In addition to other teaching positions in the states and abroad, Sanders taught at Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen. His desire to stay in the A&M system shifted Sanders to venture just a little more south in 2016, when he transferred to A&M-SA.
“I came to San Antonio because I knew it was somewhere that I could live,” Sanders said. “It was somewhere with good job opportunities and better possibilities.”
Today Sanders does not play basketball, nor does he want to for that matter, he said.
Sanders said his time with basketball has ended and he wants to continue to teach, which is where he saw himself in the long haul, something he could do for the rest of his life. Sanders said he believes his experiences through basketball have helped him land teaching jobs. They also have helped mold him into being a successful professor at A&M-SA.
“One of my coaches always used to tell us ‘fail to prepare; prepare to fail,’” Sanders said, noting the expression is equally true for teaching.
“You need to study before you complete a task, whether that’s writing a paper, giving a lecture, holding a seminar or playing a game,” Sanders said.
Sanders has left playing basketball in his past, but still talks about the game in his free time with co-workers, says William Bush, history professor and former chair of arts and humanities.
“I think one of our very first conversations was about basketball,” Bush wrote in an email. “I probably asked him if he played, and he said that he had overseas and that he had written a blog about basketball.”
Bush added: “I know he follows the sport closely, as do I, and that he (knows) quite a bit about the international game, too.”
Sanders said he is passionate about political science and hopes to inspire students to get more involved in the department and take in all it can offer as his time at A&M-SA continues.
Joyce Raposo contributed to this story.