From Claflin journalism to ESPN data analyst

Nov 23, 2020


ESPN data analyst Andres Waters speaks to multimedia students.


ESPN data analyst and 2016 Claflin graduate Andres Waters talked sports writing with multimedia students during a Zoom conference in November.

In his position with ESPN, Waters enters all plays throughout a game that he is analyzing.

“I’m literally entering each play as it happens, so the quarterback takes the ball, passes it to No. 11 who goes to the 35.  I’m entering all of those plays and every single stat that happened in that moment to accredit it to the right team,” Waters said.

This data can be viewed on or the ESPN app. 

Not only is Waters an ESPN data analyst, he is a contributor and writer for FiveThirtyEight. This website dives into politics, science, sports and other topics.

“They were doing a lot of projections and stuff as far as what was going on in the recent election and everything. They also do a sports section where we do like deep dives into the stats and data within sports,” Waters said.

Waters reminisced on his time at Claflin University, where he wrote for The Times and Democrat for two years and was editor of The Panther. He was named S.C. Collegiate Journalist of the Year in 2015.

“I had a lot of fun getting the foundation and understanding what I was doing. I had told Mr. Harter this is what I wanted to do, that I wanted to go into sports writing and sports media,” Waters said.

Going into his junior year at Claflin, he obtained the sportswriter position at The T&D, Orangeburg’s daily newspaper.  “From that point, I really dove into it.”

After Claflin, Waters attended Northwestern University for graduate school, studying sports journalism under J.A. Adande at the Medill School of Journalism.

“I got to go to the Super Bowl, which was awesome. The Patriots vs. the Falcons Super Bowl, the big comeback. I got to do a lot of really cool stuff,” Waters said.

“This field will throw you down and not pick you back up,” said Waters regarding his time being unemployed before getting the ESPN position.  He took an unpaid internship that focused on digital media just to stay in the field. 

He was able to get a job with 538 as a data research assistant, where he spent the entire NBA season entering data into a projection system.

Staying active in the field allowed Waters to stay motivated. He was willing to be anywhere in the field because he understood that his time would come, he said.

“Coming out of grad school and being unemployed, again it was really just knowing and having confidence in the fact that I’m qualified for these jobs. I was getting interviews and stuff, they were just not working out.” 

When searching for graduate schools it is important to choose programs that will open doors for networking and opportunities, Waters said. “You want to go to a program that’s going to give you certain networks and exposure that you may not get being at a small program.” 

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