TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the No. 1 seed in both the men’s 100- and 200-meter dash events at this week’s ACC outdoor track and field championships, as well as a key member of Florida State’s top-seeded 4×100 relay team, Andre Ewers has a chance to carve a small piece of history for himself.
Wins in all three events would make Ewers the first Seminole to earn a triple title at the ACC level since 2012 Olympian Maurice Mitchell accomplished the feat in 2010.
Ewers is excited for the opportunity. And he’ll have the chance to do it in front of a special visitor at host Miami’s Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables.
But don’t think that Ewers will get swept up in the moment. Ewers, a junior at FSU, has seen too many miracles in his life to determine his worth by what happens on the track.
“Running track and field doesn’t define me,” he said. “I feel like my purpose on this earth is greater than me now. It’s to influence other people to go after what they want in life and don’t let anyone downplay their dreams.”
For Ewers, chasing dreams comes naturally.
As a child in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, he dreamed of following in the fast footsteps of so many of his countrymen that ran their way off the island nation and into stardom.
As a teen who later moved with his mother to Lauderhill, Fla., near Miami, Ewers dreamed of escaping a life filled with anger, violence and school suspensions, symptoms of life with an absentee father.
And years later, as a young adult with a child of his own, Ewers now dreams of providing for all the wants and whims of his 3-year-old son Aiden, and to be the father that his own father was not.
Aiden Ewers, who lives in south Florida with his mother, will this week see his father run in person for the very first time. Ewers will first hit the track at 6:55 p.m. Thursday for the 200-meter prelims.
“My son became my motivation,” Ewers said. “I’m excited to see him see me perform and see all the work I’ve been putting in in practice, and all the sacrifices I make, to see what his father is doing.”
If Ewers sounds mature for a 21-year-old, it’s because he’s already overcome enough adversity to last a lifetime.
Spurred by an internal motivation that he says was hardened by his father’s absence, Ewers as a youth wasted little time pursuing his life on the track.
It was after tryouts for his middle school track team that Ewers’ life would forever change.
Ewers doesn’t remember much, only that he was walking home with some friends.
A man driving a pickup truck ran a stop sign, collided with the right side of Ewers’ body and then drove away.
Ewers was lucky to be alive, but still in pretty sore shape.
A CT scan revealed a concussion, and he couldn’t walk long without his hip giving out.
“I was staggering and my head was hurting,” Ewers said. “They said I wouldn’t be able to run again.”
And, for two years, they were right.
Ewers, though, has never been one to accept defeat.
“Ever since I was growing up, I’ve always been a person that sees things on the better side,” he said. “I always see the perspective of good things, regardless of what happens in life.”
With that in mind, and despite hip tightness and regular migraines that have persisted to this day, Ewers as a ninth-grader tried out for the track team at Piper High School.
It did not go well. Ewers ran his 100-meter dash at 11.7 seconds, a full second off the pace of top-level runners his age.
He was so slow that Ewers’ friends on the team teased him relentlessly and told him – maybe joking, maybe not – that he should quit.
“I wasn’t good,” Ewers said with a smile.
But rather than get discouraged, Ewers got determined. He stuck with the track team at Piper, and insisted on practicing with the faster, more-established upperclassmen – rather than his fellow freshmen – in hopes of improving his times.
No matter how badly they’d beat him, and no matter how much grief he’d catch at the end of a long afternoon, Ewers never wavered.
“It didn’t matter how hard my practice was, or how bad it was, I would still talk junk to them,” he said. “I just don’t give up. I keep pushing.”
The pushing paid off.
Through persistence and patience, Ewers eventually trimmed his 100-meter time to 10.31 seconds, and also ran the 200-meter in 21.23 – both good for runner-up finishes at the 2014 Florida state championships.
And also good enough to attract collegiate attention. First from South Plains Community College in Texas, then Butler Community College in Kansas, where he won the 2017 100-meter title and multiple All-America honors.
That led to interest from a number of big-name suitors, including Florida State.
“His vision for where he wanted to go as an athlete was probably one that only he could see, two or three years ago,” FSU coach Bob Braman said. “But he’s a phenomenal athlete. Kind of a cornerstone guy in our program.”
With that vision now come to fruition – he ran a blistering 10.04 100-meter dash at the Texas Relays earlier this year and has already claimed an ACC Indoor title in the 200-meter – Ewers has now set his gaze far beyond the track.
More accurately, he’s turned his gaze downward, toward the 3-year-old who calls him “Dad.”
Ewers knows what some people might say. After all, Ewers himself is only a 21-year-old college junior, and Aiden’s permanent home in south Florida means bonding time between father and son can be few and far between.
Ewers admits the situation is not ideal. But he also has a strong conviction to provide for his son, and the best way that he knows how to do that is through is abilities on the track.
“I know most people normally think having a kid (at this stage in life) is a mistake,” he said. “But I look at it as I control what I control, after it happened. …
“Taking care of my son is not enough – I should always spend more time with him and build that bond. Those are the sacrifices I make. He’s my number one priority in life.”
Besides, Ewers knows the pain of missing a father all too well. It’s a pain that ate at him throughout his young life, in ways that he at the time didn’t even realize.
That pain, however, eventually gave way to discovering a Christian faith, which led to forgiveness and, through Aiden, a chance to flip the script on Ewers’ own father’s legacy.
In a life filled with miracles, Ewers believes that might be the biggest one.
“I used to have hate toward my father, to be honest,” Ewers said. “I could never understand why he left me. And I used to tell myself, ‘I’m strong.’ … But when I got saved, I realized that, from the moment I was born, that was the seed of my miracle.
“And miracles happen in life, it’s just up to me to have faith and find it.”