There was a little more to Bryce Andrews’ letter-of-intent signing party at Fort Lupton High School Nov. 19 than just well-wishes, applause, signing for college and snacks.
Andrews was overcome with tears, so much so that his stepmother, Chaundra Bell, stepped in with a pat on the shoulder and a well-timed embrace.
Andrews, who signed to play basketball with the Kangaroos of Austin College in Sherman, Texas, lost a brother to suicide. That prompted his desire to be a psychologist.
“Anyone I can help through therapy, that’s my dream,” Andrews said. “It’s a huge day. I’m glad everyone is here. I’m glad I’m here. I never thought I’d be in this situation. I never thought I’d be playing basketball to this day. It’s unfathomable.
“My mom left at a young age,” Andrews continued. “It was just me, my brother and my dad. My brother passed away. There were days when I wondered what I would do. I was mad at the world. I turned that negative energy into something positive, and it worked out. Basketball was a home away from home. It’s a stress-free place. It was my sanctuary.
“My dad and basketball. That’s what I had.”
Andrews was born in Texas. His father came to Colorado because of work.
“The culture is different. It’s an hour from my sister, my nieces, my grandmother,” he said. “It felt right. It was the right place to go. I want to be a psychologist or a therapist (he wants to minor in kinesiology), and they have the right program. It’s a great place to go.”
Principal John Biner said he didn’t know Andrews particularly well.
“One thing I will tell you is he’s an outstanding young man,” Biner said. “People visit with him because he attracts people. He’s a great student. The leadership he shows is welcome.”
Athletic director Cora Lanter said Andrews got the opportunity for college sports because of his academics and commitment to schoolwork.
“He has great relations with his teachers, his peers, his coaches, the administration, his family,” she said. “You are going to do great things. He’s getting the equivalent of a full ride, not just for basketball. It’s for his grades.”
Andrews’ new coach, Jim Roedel, was in a spot where he was welcoming a new player and also seeing him leave at just about the same time.
“Less than 7 percent of high-school athletes get to play in college,” he said. “You are accomplishing something that 93 percent of high-school athletes won’t. He’s got good family support. I can’t imagine the amount of money and time you’ve spent. Now you’re going back home, and it’s a great opportunity.
“A lot of times, I worry about people going out of state,” Roedel continued. “You’re going to be successful.”
The kinesiology piece came from Andrews’ involvement in sports and because of a torn labrum last year while playing for Weld Central.
“Just playing sports. I’m not sure. It’s something I’ve been interested in since I was a little kid,” Andrews said. “I did get hurt. Maybe that’s part of it. They were always very kind to me. They got me back to where I am now, and I’m signing for college. I guess it worked out.”
Andrews said he was “unbelievably excited” for what lies ahead.
“Scared? I wouldn’t say so. Nervous? In this moment,” he said. “This is my path. Everyone’s is different. It’s been a long time coming. It’s finally here. The nerves are gone. I cried a lot earlier on the table.”
Andrews played in just six games for Weld Central in a COVID-shortened season before his injury. He averaged almost 14 points per game, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals.
“It’s a home away from home,” Andrews said. “I still have family out there. I miss Texas, and I’m glad to go back. In my heart and in my soul, I knew this is what I needed to do.”