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Chris D'Andrea Plays It Smart

By EDMC Public Relations Department

"Working with athletes has always been a passion for me, and my education has enabled me to break into a professional career in athletics."

High school student athletes can be under a lot of pressure. Balancing schoolwork and practice time. Maintaining sharp mental and physical skills. Avoiding peer pressure. And, perhaps most importantly, knowing when to stop and ask for guidance. This is where Chris D'Andrea, an Argosy University/Phoenix graduate, steps up to the line of scrimmage and lends a helping hand.

D'Andrea is an academic coach with the National Football League's Play It Smart program. Founded in 1998, Play It Smart is an educational program targeted at kids from tough inner city environments where family and community support are generally lacking.

D'Andrea received a master's degree in sport and exercise psychology from Argosy University/Phoenix, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Ohio State University.

Play It Smart is designed to take a student-athlete's passion for sport and intense dedication to their team and transform it into a force for greater good in their lives. At less than a-dollar-a-day per student-athlete, the program has seen 87% of its participants move on to college. Play It Smart is in 88 high schools nationwide, including Chicago's Hubbard High School, where D'Andrea works as the program's academic coach.

D'Andrea, who is considered a member of the football coaching staff, runs study halls, teaches life skills, confers with teachers, arranges ACT preparation work, sets up community service projects, and serves as a mentor and ombudsman for the student athletes.

D'Andrea was able to take the sport psychology education from Argosy University/Phoenix and use it to make a positive difference in his students' lives. "The most intriguing experience at Argosy University/Phoenix was the practicum," says D'Andrea. "I liked the fact that I could actually work as a consultant to a junior college athletic team." While he assists students in achieving their goals, D'Andrea wishes simply to continue working with athletes as a career, including academic advising at the high school or college level, teaching life skills, personal counseling, or performance enhancement.

"Working with athletes has always been a passion for me, and my education has enabled me to break into a professional career in athletics."

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