The 2022-2023 Hearst Journalism Awards Program has announced that recent Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication sports journalism graduate Andrew Lwowski has won a $3,000 first place prize in the Sports Writing category for the article “Fields of dreams: How farming and football helped Eloy harvest NFL talent” published in Cronkite News. The Cronkite School will receive a Hearst matching grant.
The Hearst Journalism Awards Program, known as the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate journalism, provides support, encouragement and assistance to journalism education at the college and university level. The program awards scholarships to students for outstanding performance in college-level journalism, with matching grants to the students’ schools.
“I’m immensely proud of Andrew for winning this prestigious award. The Hearst Journalism Awards Program is one of the most esteemed student journalism contests in the country and Andrew’s first place showing is a reflection of his hard work and talent as a storyteller,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr.
Lwowski’s story was chosen out of 131 entries from 70 schools across the country. In it, he features Santa Cruz Valley High School in the small city of Eloy, Arizona, and chronicles its history of harvesting NFL players. The Santa Cruz football program has produced five NFL football players, which is the most per capita in the state of Arizona.
“It feels amazing to know that my story, my work is being recognized. It’s a bit surreal to see it win first out of all the colleges and other writers in the country. When I first got the email congratulating me, I sent a screenshot to Paola [Boivin], asking if it was legit or just phishing,” Lwowski said.
Lwowski knew little about Eloy when he started reporting, but he immersed himself into the story and the community during the process.
“After getting to know the people who built that community and program, and exploring
the town, it impacted me. I feel I do a great job translating that into my work, really accentuating
emotions and setting the scene,” he said.
Lwowski is currently working for Wrangler News but also does freelance in Varsity Xtras and Phoenix Magazine. He hopes to someday work at an outlet such as Sports Illustrated or The Athletic where he can write enterprise stories and investigations.
Boivin, director of the Cronkite News Phoenix Sports Bureau, guided Lwowski during his reporting process while he was working on the story.
“I’m thrilled he won it. He deserved it for how hard he worked. He is just a great representative of the Cronkite School and reflects what we work so diligently to communicate: integrity, a strong work ethic and curiosity will take you far in this business,” Boivin said.
The story idea came from Boivin, who would drive on I-10 through the small Central Arizona community and wondered how the area produced so many NFL players.
Once Boivin told Lwowski about the idea he pursued it in a way Boivin never imagined.
“He so wonderfully captured the spirit of Eloy, not just by telling a sports story but by telling the tale of a hard-working community. I heard from so many people who said no one has done justice to Eloy the way Andrew did,” she said.
Lwowski’s story qualifies for the National Championship in June 2023.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s BA program in sports journalism is one of its fastest growing programs. The program gives students unparalleled preparation for careers in sports media and communications through courses such as sports writing, sports photography, sports strategic communications, broadcast sports reporting, live sports production, play-by-play, and ethics and diversity in sports.
During the sports journalism degree program, students complete a variety of professional experiences. Internship partners include professional sports teams from the Diamondbacks to the Suns; Arizona State University athletics; local, regional and national sports media outlets like ESPN, Bally Sports, Fox Sports, the Pac-12 Networks; and more. Sports journalism students also participate in the school’s semester-long immersive learning experiences, working with sports clients in the Cronkite Agency, or report from sports bureaus in Phoenix and Los Angeles, where they cover teams and events in the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA, LPGA and Division I athletics.