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Lee: LC’s Black selects big challenge at Cal

Thu., April 24, 2014

If you had asked Andrew Black six months ago where he’d be this fall, he would have talked about all sorts of possibilities.

As recently as last week the Lewis and Clark senior believed he was at a crossroad. He thought he had to choose between playing football in college or getting on with his life.

Black visited the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma last weekend to try to sharpen his focus. The Loggers wanted him to come and compete for the starting job at quarterback.

Another option was going to the University of California, forsaking all things athletic. He’s attracted to Berkeley for many reasons.

Black, who will graduate as one of LC’s valedictorians with a 4.0 grade-point average, wants to pursue a business degree followed by an MBA. The goal is someday to take over his dad’s business – NAI Black, a commercial real estate firm. The business was previously owned by Black’s dad, James S. Black.

Yet another option was going to Cal and accepting a preferred walk-on opportunity.

He finally made a decision earlier this week.

“I’m going to my school of choice and will play football,” Black said of selecting Cal. “I felt in my heart it was my best option. I’ll walk on in the spring of 2015.”

Black spent the winter ruling out another option. Every other weekend, from early December to early April, he skied in races from Banff, British Columbia, to Colorado and parts in between. He was ranked No. 1 in the U-18 age group for Washington, Idaho and Oregon and fifth regionally. As the season progressed Black knew his competitive skiing days were coming to an end.

He could have taken a year off from school and devoted his time exclusively to pursuing a scholarship to ski in college. But it’s time to put the skis on the shelf – though it will be a lifelong recreation.

“I wasn’t progressing as much as I wanted,” Black said. “I was pretty burned out. I’ve been skiing competitively since I was 7 years old.”

There was a time when Black dreamed he could be a Bode Miller or Ted Ligety.

“I lost my love for it,” he said. “Most people don’t realize how competitive skiing can be. The guys who are successful do it year round.

“I couldn’t ski year round because I loved playing football,” Black said. “I really tried to have a balance.”

Black was a two-year starter at quarterback for the Tigers and started his sophomore year at safety. Last fall, he was a two-way starter and named to the all-Greater Spokane League first-team defense.

Most of his memories and satisfaction athletically come from football.

“I loved the feeling walking in the halls at school and in the locker room – win or lose,” Black said. “I loved the whole experience and being the big man on campus.”

Now he’ll try to find his path at Berkeley.

“Hopefully, football works out but if it not the educational opportunities there are unreal,” he said. “It’s rated as the second-best business school in the nation. When I visited I fell in love with the campus. I don’t know anybody there, so if I go there it would be a totally new challenge.”

In more ways than one.

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