Sport Business Degree Major Looks to Make Perfect Pitch in His Career
Meet Andy Booth, a Saint Leo University sport business degree student who is looking to make the perfect pitch in a career in the sports industry.
Making the perfect pitch has always been a goal for Andy Booth. The current Saint Leo University sport business degree major and long reliever for the Saint Leo baseball team not only targets the strike zone when he is on the mound, but he is looking to make the perfect pitch in his career as well.
Booth, 21, is originally from Palm Harbor, FL. The middle of three, his older brother, Alex, is 23, while his younger brother, Adam, is 16. He is a 2019 alumnus of Palm Harbor University High School.
He says that his mom, Lyn, has been his biggest supporter personally.
“She comes to all of my baseball games, and she is only a phone call away,” Booth says.
Booth committed to play baseball at Saint Leo University during his junior year of high school. He shares why becoming a Lion seemed like the best path for him to take.
“I had a few other offers from other schools in the Sunshine State Conference,” he says. “When I got on campus, I liked what I saw. I liked how everything is kind of all together compared to other schools that are much more spread out. It is also a closely-knit community that feels like a family. Coach [Richard] O’Dette made me feel like part of the family, and this made me feel comfortable in the Saint Leo baseball program.”
He confides that baseball was a catalyst for him to pursue higher education.
“If I didn’t play baseball, I might not have gone to college.”
He enrolled at Saint Leo and began his college coursework in the fall of 2019, selecting the BA in sport business degree program.
“I’ve always liked sports, and I figured staying in the sports industry made a lot of sense for me,” he says.
Academically, several faculty members in the sport business degree program have been there for him in a number of ways.
“Prof. [Phil] Hatlem has been my mentor throughout college,” he reflects. “He has always been there for me as I’ve gone through different classes and faced some challenges like we all experience in life. He has always been on my side.”
In addition, Drs. Leon Mohan and Dene Williamson have meant so much to him as a student.
“They have been great to me and are a big reason I have enjoyed the sport business major. I enjoy spending time with them.”
He cannot thank his professors enough for the professional connections they have made for him outside of the classroom.
“They have always reached out to me with opportunities because they know I will probably take them,” he says. “I think practical experiences are big for your resume and future career.”
Starting at the age of five, Booth began playing tee ball, hockey, and flag football.
“I got myself out there when I was pretty young,” he says. “Around nine or 10 years old, I really got into Little League and eventually went on to play high school baseball and travel ball over the summer where I started getting looks from colleges.”
While he initially played first base and outfield as a youngster, he is now a left-handed pitcher and is primarily a long reliever who comes into games for the Lions out of the bullpen.
“Coach O’Dette has been open arms since I showed up,” he says. “The coaching staff has changed a bit, but he has been a mainstay in the program. He made me feel comfortable as soon as I came in.”
Booth has pitched for the Saint Leo baseball team for three years with his senior season on the horizon. During the 2022 campaign, he was part of a club that went 36-17 and hosted the NCAA Division II Baseball South Regional Tournament.
“It was really cool to be part of this event and get to host it on our campus,” he says. “It was a big stepping stone for our program.”
Booth had two relief appearances during the regional event.
Along with his on-the-field contributions, he has served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) executive board with other student-athletes across all sports. He and his baseball teammates have volunteered in the community. They have done everything from pulling weeds to assisting with the Peter J. Mulry Foundation baseball clinic at Tampa Catholic High School.
For him, the Saint Leo core value of community has been exemplified in so many ways.
“It feels like a family here. If you are in the classroom, cafeteria, or anywhere on campus, people are always smiling at you.”
He has lived on campus during his entire time at Saint Leo and says the community in the residence halls is so supportive.
“Having similar people around you throughout your college career is really nice. It’s been nice to have some other guys who play baseball living on campus as well.”
Personal development is another key core value in his eyes.
“I have become much more mature and do a lot more things myself thanks to the experiences I’ve had,” he says.
He offers up a glowing endorsement for anyone considering the university.
“If you’re looking to have a family at school, Saint Leo is the place to come,” he says. “Academically, your professors will be there for you., If you decide to play a sport, I have to say that all of the teams here support each other on campus.”
In his young career, Booth has already had several work opportunities. His first came in high school as a bagger at Winn-Dixie. He worked as a summer camp counselor and event planner at Safety Harbor Montessori Academy. He also completed an apprenticeship with the athletics department on campus, assisting with operations, facilities, and other areas of the department.
This past January, he earned a unique work experience at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. The game featured the University of Arkansas against Penn State University. Two professors in the sport business degree major connected him to the opportunity.
“Prof. Hatlem and Dr. Williamson reached out and asked if I was interested in working the event,” he says. “It was the coolest experience I’ve had. I got VIP access to go anywhere in the stadium. I was a runner, so I got to help out with a lot of things. I also got to sit with the ESPN announcers in the press box. I learned what goes into televising a game with the big trucks, wires going here and there, and lots of people to help put on the production. It was so neat to see all of this.”
In one of his classes, an assignment involved serving as a greeter at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers home game.
This summer, he has interned with the Savannah Bananas in Savannah, GA, a baseball club in the Coastal Plain League that recruits college players to compete over the summer. He has worked as an assistant in the operations department.
“I’ve helped with anything they need a hand with,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve been away from home like this. It’s been different, but I wouldn’t change anything about the experience.”
He has also performed for the Bananas on the mound, getting to pitch with a variety of college players from around the country.
And what career path in sports does he have his sights set on?
“I love the fan side of sports. I’d love to be the reason a fan has a good time at a sporting event. I could see myself working in operations, player development, or even on the personnel side.”
No matter where his professional pursuits lead him, he has an unwavering, can-do attitude that is sure to take him far.
“I take pride in what my resume is going to look like when I graduate,” he says. “If I can go somewhere and do something to make my resume look better, I’m all for it.”
Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Andy Booth and are used with permission.