She became a children’s book author to encourage academics, then a philanthropist to encourage athletics.
March 2, 2020
Andrea Alexander’s son Nick loved professional sports—the inspiring athletes, the unexpected plays, the thrill of the game. What he didn’t enjoy was reading.
So his mother began researching ways to help motivate her first-grader to appreciate books. The task proved difficult for the telecom consultant.
“He fell behind in reading because he wanted to read the sports page of The Washington Post,” says Alexander, who earned her bachelor’s in marketing education in 1995 and her master’s in vocational and technical education in 1998, both from Virginia Tech. “But that’s at a much higher reading level, and he had trouble comprehending it.”
So Alexander took matters into her own hands. She became an author. Starting with her son’s favorite professional athlete, Bryce Harper, then a Washington Nationals right fielder, she enlisted two helpers. One was her son. The information he wanted to know gave her a direction and helped with the layout strategy.
“With Nick, the challenge was that when he would open a book and see too many words on a page, he would want to shut the book,” she says. “I kept this in mind. I didn’t want the text to be overwhelming.”
Then she reached out to Naren Aryal, a friend who had graduated with a major in business from Virginia Tech in 1992. He had left his position as a corporate attorney to start an independent publishing house, Mascot Books. He became Alexander’s publisher, and she launched the Glory Days Press Sports Biographies series in 2016. She has since published six books.
These publications do more than help connect children to reading; they directly support young athletes in Loudoun County, Virginia. The proceeds from the books go to Glory Day Live, a nonprofit Alexander started.
“My husband is a high school coach and we’ve been involved with travel sports since both our boys were little,” she says. “Children are expected to play sports year round, and it becomes expensive.”
Alexander lives in Leesburg, Virginia, an affluent city—but not universally so. Some residents struggle with basic expenses and cannot afford sports fees for their children. Glory Days Live offsets those costs. And parent liaisons from schools assist Alexander and her nonprofit in identifying programs in need of athletic equipment, which the nonprofit also helps provide.
“I want to make sure kids have their needs met,” she says, “whether it’s inspiration for academics or encouragement for athletics.”
Written and photographed by Leslie King