New Year, New Opportunities


New Year, New Opportunities

Its been quite a while since my last post.  Anyone who works in higher education, or Athletics for that matter, knows the toll that the end of the fall semester takes on students, faculty, staff and administrators alike.  This fall at FIU was prolonged due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma, keeping everyone in a heightened state of focus for a week longer than usual.

But WHAT a Fall for FIU!  Congratulations to our FIU Men’s Soccer Program (@FIUMensSoccer on Twitter or on a truly special season.  Winning the Conference USA Regular Season Title gave the team the opportunity to host the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  After an impressive 2-0 win against Omaha, our season simply ran out of time against Duke.  I am sure I echo all of our FIU Fan Base & Alumni when I say that Coach Kevin Nylen has just gotten started.

Congratulations to Sherilene Gelderblom on her impressive start to her FIU career earning first team All-Conference honors in cross country.  Coach Jermaine Felix is quietly putting together a phenomenal roster, something to keep your eyes on.

How important is Leadership in Athletics?  I would suggest it is possibly the most important factor in a programs success, or its failure.  I believe it is more vital than facilities, finances or location.  Our FIU Football Program truly showed the strength of leadership this fall term going bowling for the first time in six years – finishing 8-5 with a team returning many of the same starters from the previous year.  Congratulations to the administrators, coaches and student-athletes for one of the best turn arounds in NCAA and FIU Athletics History.  The future of FIU Football is bright with Coach Butch Davis.

From all of us at the FIU Student-Athlete Academic Center, we would like to THANK all of our student-athletes for their service, efforts and energy this fall.  Personally, I’d like to thank everyone who touches our program and provides the type of service we have become known for here at FIU.  From our student workers, to our tutors; our Learning Specialists and our Academic Coordinators.  Thank you Helen, Victor, Ron, Lisa, Donald, Cristina, Alison, Zhyrma, Denisse, and Lyzbeth.  Most importantly, Thank You to the Leadership Team of FIU SAAC, Ayssa & Shirley, for their tireless efforts not only to enhance and evolve our program – but the outside of the box thinking that has brought our #SAACares program to life.  It is this type of extra effort that makes our programming unique – and I am excited to see what we can do to enhance it this spring.    

We are just a few days away from posting our updated information regarding the success of our students in the classroom, and I know you will be proud of what our FIU students have accomplished.  A special Thank you to our seniors, what a truly phenomenal class.    

Congratulations to our Fall Graduates:

Alex Demchak, Nick Day, Zach Soria, Mike Agis, Will Fabra, James Cruise, Niko Gonzalez, Newton Salisbury, Anthony Wint, Bryce Kanada, Alex Gardner, Alex McGough, Treyvon Williams, Jordan Budwig, Chris Flaig, Pol Guzman, Shermenke Spence, Hassan Hussein, Pasquale Giovine, Donald Tomlison, Luca Betancur, Paul Marie, Nina Nagode, Kathryn Hogan, Symone Lindsay, Courtney Phillips, Jackie Byers and Sophia Trujillo!

Heading into the New Year we are excited to showcase the evolution of our program.  For the first time in three years, our student-athlete academic center will start a semester at full strength!  Please join me in welcoming Robert Arroyo ( to our Panther Family.  Although Robert officially joined our program during the Holiday Break, his role with Baseball, Softball and Women’s Soccer will really take off this spring term.  With the addition of Robert, we can continue to emphasize our student-centered approach that has led to record numbers of FIU graduates, an increase in both our NCAA APR rate as well as our Federal Graduation Rate and the posting of the Highest GPA in FIU Athletics History.  Just imagine what we can do with an extra set of hands!

I hope this post finds you enjoying a wonderful winter break, full of friends & family.  I’ve been blessed to spend this time with my family enjoying a break from the daily grind.  I’ve learned I am not a great monopoly player and that an 8 year can be a fierce Uno competitor.  As we head into the New Year, I am absolutely thrilled about the new opportunities & challenges that face our program.  Personally, the opportunities with the Metropolitan Consortium (UCF, USF & FIU) as well as the leadership roles within the Board of Directors for N4A and my Chair of the NACADA advising Student-Athletes Community make each day different than the last.

Embrace the New Year.  Learn from last year.  Find your passion, invest in your strengths and go all in on whatever it is you love doing.  More than anything, #LiveMaas


@WesDMaas (Twitter / IG)     (307) 223-6429