Updates After #N4A17


Before we get into this installment of the #LiveMaas blog, I strongly encourage you to participate in this weeks #SAthleteDevChat through the 🐦 @SAthleteDevChat 🐦 account.  Although this is not an N4A account, there will be great interaction and content from all across our higher education platform from all Divisions and Conferences.

Lets start with some feedback on the National Convention itself.  It is my belief that the N4A National Convention is one of the finest of its kind running right now.  A huge amount of its success has to be accredited to the N4A Board of Directors, but also to Katie Newman (Manager, NACDA) and Bob Vecchione (NACDA).  Everything is superior, from the layout of the event space to the rooms themselves.  What a special area to host this amount of people.  Clearly one of the hits for the weekend was not only the pool with its massive TV’s where members could relax and catch up on the NCAA Regionals…. but at night – the new ⚡️⚡️Laser Show ⚡️⚡️that the resort puts on.  My SnapChat was bombarded with light shows and EDM each night.

If you missed Judy Foudy, then you truly missed something special.  Her presentation was truly phenomenal.  I highly recommend that if you have an opportunity to see her present that you take advantage of it.

The competition for attendee’s attention at the National Convention is extremely difficult.  I can admit I was slightly concerned to see a half empty room as my Assistant Director (Shirley Caballero – you can find her on Instagram as @Taimah) and I were preparing for our presentation, “Be Well, Do Well – Invest in Your Team”.  We ended up having a wonderful crowd by the time the presentation started.  If you attended the presentation, I would 💙 to get your feedback in the comments area below, or you can direct them to any one of my communication channels.  If for any reason you would like a copy of our presentation, I would be more than happy to send it out to you!


Several key areas from the convention.  Felicia Martin is now firmly in her role as President of our N4A.  I am confident our Leadership has never been stronger, or more focused, than it is right now.  From Kim, to Jean to Ken and now to Felicia, our future is extremely bright.  The membership elected Mike Meade (http://www.soonersports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=31000&ATCLID=208803407) as our Present, Elect.  I have been fortunate to get to know Mike well over the past few years.  His experience with N4A are second to none and his resume reads like a wikipedia page on higher education.  We also voted on, and secured, a new name for our Organization.  If you missed it, I’m happy to provide it here for you…


Hopefully the Convention was a success for you as well.  Networking, fellowship, mentoring – I hope you found whatever it was you came in search of.  If you were not able to attend, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for additional information, presentations, etc.  I will do my best to assist you!

So, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?  You attended a National Convention this summer, whether it be #N4A17, CoSIDA, FOAD, NAAC, NAATSO, NACMA, NATYCAA, etc.

Network.  You made contacts.  Exchanged business cards.  Perhaps even took in the EDM show by the pool.  Now, interact with those new peers.  Reach out to them and say hello.  Introduce new ideas or help other staff members with the concepts they are working on.  Don’t waste this incredible opportunity to grow your network and expand upon your department, or even your personal, brand.

Implement.  At every National Convention I come back with a minimum of three to four ideas that can change how we work with our student-athletes.  Please, I implore you, Do NOT lose your momentum.  You are back on campus now.  Orientations are in full swing and your freshman are either HERE or they arrive soon.  Keep the momentum you started in Orlando going and implement those new ideas on your campus.

Evaluate.  Did you accomplish the goals you set out with when you left for Orlando?  Did you meet those three to four key people that can help you, your department or your students grow?  Did you have a chance to present and build upon your professional development opportunities?  Evaluate the entire experience and see where you can improve next year in D.C.

Please 🙏🏻🙏🏻 do me a HUGE favor.  Leave me feedback, including which convention you attended, in the comments area down below.

  • What were your Goals heading into the Convention?
  • What was your FAVORITE Session, and Why?
  • What Event is next for you?  Are you considering a Regional or Drive-In convention?

Finally, a special Thank You to the N4A Board of Directors for tapping me as the Director at Large for Strategic Communications.  It is truly an honor to serve on the Board of Directors and I look forward to our work together.

To everyone I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time this year, THANK YOU for your time!  For those who have been there since day one, it is always tremendous to catch up.  As always, if I can ever be of service to you – you can easily reach me:

  • 📱307-223-6429
  • 🐤@Wesdmaas
  • 💻Wmaas@fiu.edu

A Time to Reflect

LiveMaas_A Time to Relfect

There is a sweet spot in the Academic year, a time where things calm down and you can reflect on the year that was. It comes between the end of the spring term where grades have posted, students have graduated and continuing eligibility has been determined and the start of the second summer session. As a program, you can take a minute and catch your breath before the new students are onboarded and the cycle starts again. We had a great conversation about this process during our last #SAThleteDevChat that I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read.

For everyone in our business, I think it is important to realize that by saying it is a calm period, it just means the 🔥🔥 are slightly smaller and a little more spread out.

I am extremely excited about the progress our @FIU student-athletes continue to make in the classroom. It is amazing to look back over the past three years to see the growth of not only our students – but our Program and the development of our student-centered staff.

What impresses me the most is the consistency of success of our staff and our Program. We have come a long way in three years, posting a 3.0 or higher department GPA for 7 consecutive semesters as we strive to set a Department goal of 3.5. To see our staff pull through every unexpected challenge and continue to post such strong numbers is a true reflection of their work ethic, character and affirmation that we truly believe in a “We before Me” mentality.

“It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there” Mia Hamm

The Leadership Team at @FIU_SAAC devotes significant time to our #SAACares Program thinking of ways to Thank, or show appreciation to, our dedicated staff. I’ve talked about this before in my post on “The Modern Office”. If you missed that, I would encourage you to take a second and scroll down. I’d like to take this opportunity to quickly THANK Helen, Victor, Ron, Lisa, Donald, Ayssa, Cristina, Alison, Brenda, Denisse, Lyzbeth and Shirley for everything they bring to our program and to our student-athletes. We also have truly amazing student workers from our front desk staff to our content tutors. The http://www.FIU.edu Administration has provided the vision and the support to ensure our student-athletes are successful. From Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Bejar to our partners in the academic community – THANK YOU – Dr. Markowitz, Dr. Andrews, Elizabeth Carrillo, Dr. Valdes, Dr. Himburg, Dr. Fain, Jody Glassman, Javier Marques and many – many more. I would like to single out the incredible work being done by (soon to be Dr.) Bridgette Cram and her Department of student success.


You might be asking yourself – What do we do during this small break in the storm that is Academic Support? Well, In our program, http://SAAC.FIU.edu, we take advantage of that time to evaluate our entire program – top to bottom. We understand this is a very fluid process – that much like technology – things will continue to change every year. We want to stay on top of the curve so that we can enhance the support provided to our student-athletes. We dedicate the first seven weeks of the summer to review the past academic year. Evaluation is 🔑.

The feedback from our student population is paramount to every conversation we have during this time period. We break each segment of our program out and evaluate it. Our Staff is given the opportunity to address and change anything and everything in our day to day. The only MUST STAY aspects of our program are our pillars: Student-Centered, Communication with Urgency, Investing in Our People. Everything else is on the table. I’m excited to see what aspects of our program we change to better fit the needs of our students as we aim to break another GPA record this upcoming academic year. We will be sending several staff members to @NfourA this summer in Orlando to continue our professional development and we hope to see many of you there.


To all of our FIU Students who graduated this year – CONGRATS, but please know this is not the end. You have our number, all you have to do is call if you need anything.

To all of our FIU Students joining our #PantherFamily this year – WELCOME. We are so excited you are here and can’t wait to get started.   #LiveMaas
* 📱307-223-6429
* 🐤@Wesdmaas
* 💻Wmaas@fiu.edu



‘A Conversation with Kenneth Miles’


For this weeks installment of my #LiveMaas blog, I am excited to have Kenneth Miles, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director for the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes at LSU, with us.

·         📱 225-578-6518

·         🐤 @LSUAcademicCenter

·          💻 Komiles@lsu.edu

Kens’ commitment to the “well rounded” student-athlete comes from his time as a four-year letterman at the University of Virginia. He used his stature in that role to be a positive influence to his teammates and the Charlottesville community by mentoring youth through the Big Brother program.

Miles earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art and a Master of Education in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia. In addition, Miles earned a Master of Science degree in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University.

Ken arrived at Syracuse University in 1997 as the Director for Academic Support. Under his academic direction, the Syracuse football program notched a perfect 100 percent graduation rate in 2000 which lead the nation and earned the American Football Coaches Association Achievement Award.  In 2002 Miles became the Assistant Dean for Student Services and in 2006 became the Executive Director for Diversity Enrollment Management and Graduate Admissions.  Miles then returned to the Syracuse Athletics Department as the Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Support Service. 

In 2008, Ken joined the LSU family as the Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes. 

During his time at LSU, he has created a formal media training program, designed a media studio and implemented a digital signage plan. He also created the Student Learning Center, advisory boards for Professional/Career Development, Student Learning, Health / Wellness and Diversity, Inclusion and Civic Engagement, And developed a 5-year strategic plan.

In May 2012, Miles was named the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Executive Director the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.

WM:  The idea of actually having this potential interview was the spark that started most of this blog.  I’ve admired Ken and his work in Higher Education and I am thrilled to have him with us today.  Ken, Welcome!  Lets jump right in.  Due to time, we will condense the text portion of the interview while providing the entire audio link below.

1.  WM  First question that I’m sure people in our profession would like to know; Please define your leadership style and how it has evolved?

KM:  The first thing about Leadership Style is to be reflective about who I am.  That is who I am as a person as well as who I am as a person who is expected to go and lead a team.  The notion of Teamwork is very critical in our operation.  In fact, I refer to our staff (at LSU) as a team.  Recognizing when someone is going through struggle or downfall, they know they can reach out to a team member to be able to assist so that we can reach a common goal.

In terms of guiding principles, I do cross theory and practicality.  There are four guiding principles I utilize in terms of my leadership.  Visionary. Servant. Authentic. Adaptive.

Adaptive leadership requires a little more explaining than the other three.  Essentially, within an adaptive leadership the body is broken down into two halves.  Not equal halves, but two parts.  The Neck down and the neck up.   The Neck up is referred to as the technical challenge and the neck down is referred to the adaptive.  Neck down is where your heart is located.  Neck up, your brain.  Neck down is essentially who you are as a person.  It is  your DNA composition.  I like to look for people who are of like heart.  Recognizing that if you are of like mind is secondary.

2.  WM  One thing I noticed in review of your background, you started your career as an art teacher.  What lead you to transitioning to Academic Support?

KM:  Interesting story. I was teaching at my high school in Washington, DC.  Craig Littlepage (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Littlepage) was the Athletic Director at (UVA) the time.  We ended up having a 30-45 minute conversation.  Next thing you know, he had an opportunity he wanted me to look at.  A position in Life Skills.  The rest, is history.

The one thing I will say about my art degree is that it prepared me for life outside of the University of Virginia.  As an artist, you have to put your piece of art before folks.  You have to be willing to field the criticism, whether positive or negative, about your art.  What that does is opens the doors to constructive criticism.  If we want to be the best at what we do, we have to be able to ask the questions that outsiders may have.

3  WM  Can you tell us a little about the Kenneth Miles scholarship and the ‘Our Time Has Come’ initiatives you spearheaded at Syracuse?

KM:  Our Time Has Come was a campaign that was run through the development office through the University.  Primarily its focus was to be a support program as an extension for our students of color.  I did not want money to be the reason why students could not attend Syracuse University.  I started to think about what ways I could contribute to that.  I ended up meeting with the development office.  I wanted to create a scholarship for students of color that would not count against state or institutional aid.  I wanted my scholarship to be able to cover the difference.  I made a commitment to the Our Time Has Come campaign which was my way of paying it forward as well as giving it back.


4.  WM  You are a member of the Commission on Access, Diversity, & Excellence – the Baton Rouge Rotary and the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. You serve on the Board of Directors for 100 Black Men Metro of Baton Rouge, and the Board of Directors for Volunteer of America. In addition, you are also currently serving as President for the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics.  How do you create work / life balance?

KD: The first thing I would say is that work life balance is not 50/50.  I recognize that certain things will require more time than others.  As long as I am able to dedicate the appropriate time and not neglect the important things, than I am able to find balance.  I am the first to admit that it is hard to find balance.  It is something that is still a struggle for me, but I do have to remind myself of the long term goals.  There are certain things that I am in control of, and that is what I need to focus on.

5.  WM  As our current N4A President, What excites you about the future of Athletic Academic Support?  Adversely, what do you see as our primary challenges?

KM:  The ability to have a direct impact on someones life.  That excites me.  Recognizing that across our country, education is not necessarily equitable.  We are trying to close the gaps, educate our future and leverage the inequalities.  If you can do all of those things, then you are changing the world.  We are in a position where we can do all of those things.

What I see as a primary challenge?  I think there are many challenges that exist.  Some are due to the result of the educational gap.  There is also the wealth gap, or the socioeconomic gap.  Due to the amount of money generated, the wealth gap might close.  But it does not address the heart of the problem, or I should say symptoms.  What we do know, for example, those who ultimately get their degrees earn more in their lifetime and are able to build wealth consistently over their lifetime.  I think when we start to be able to address some of those areas and start closing the gaps, then perhaps we will have a better shot on growing and developing the minds of our student-athletes.

6.  WM  For those in our field that aspire to be Directors, what is one specific piece of advice you would give them?

KM:  Control the Things that You Can Control.  It is not for us to leave it in the hands of someone else to dictate and define.  I would ask what is your investment in the process?  We encourage the same in our student-athletes, so we need to look at ourselves in the same light.

We are extremely fortunate to have had an opportunity to visit with Kenneth Miles.  If you enjoyed this interview, please do not forget to Leave a comment.  Also, you can follow me on social media or reach me here:

  • 📱307-223-6429
  • 🐤@Wesdmaas
  • 💻Wmaas@fiu.edu


‘A Conversation with Kim Durand’

LiveMaas_Kim Durand

For this week’s installment of my #LiveMaas blog, we will continue our focus on Leadership in Athletics.  In an effort to bring the best content possible to my readers, I am excited to interview Kim Durand, the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Student Development at the University of Washington.  

In her role, Kim manages all student-athlete academic services.  Additionally, she works actively on enhancing the life skills of student-athletes, as well as race and diversity initiatives. 

Durand is also actively engaged in the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A).  She served as the National President from 2014-15 and is currently the Liaison and Coordinator for the NFL Trust Degree Completion Program. 

In 2010, Durand received the N4A Model Practice award for her work creating the University of Washington’s summer LEAP program.  She was awarded the 2011 N4A Lan Hewlitt award, recognizing sustained professional service in the field of academic advising for student-athletes and significant contributions to the field through professional involvement, development and leadership in university affairs. 

Kim earned her Bachelor’s degree in Rhetoric & Communication and Psychology in 1991 from the University of Oregon.  She went on to earn her Master’s in Educational Policy & Management, with an emphasis in higher education administration.  

WM:  I am especially excited about our second interview as Kim has been someone I, as well as many in our field, have looked up to as a leader for a long time.  Kim, Welcome!  And l’m glad to get started.  Due to time, we will condense the text portion of the interview while providing the entire audio link below.


  1. WM  Please define your leadership style.

KD:  I didn’t develop my leadership style naturally.  I think, over the years I’ve had in the field, it has evolved.  Both to kind of play to my strengths and based on the leadership lessons I have had at four institutions.  I am definitely a collaborative Leader.  I do like variety of input from constituents, their perspectives – especially staff and student-athletes.  The challenge with that is absorbing that information, processing it, and then as a leader having the confidence to pull the trigger to make a decision.  Priorities for me:  A) Develop those around me (students and staff), helping others grow and develop while being collaborative in nature.  B) Bringing everyone together from a team perspective.  C) Knowing that part of being a leader is having to make tough decisions and have tough conversations.  I am willing to do that and I think that is part of my responsibility; and quite frankly, over my years of experience what I have had to the work hardest on.


  1. WM  Your undergraduate degree is in Rhetoric & Communication and Psychology.  Did you know Student Development was the field you were going to end up in?

      KD:  No!  It is kind of a funny story that I often tell my student-athletes.  Out of high school I intended to be a Psychology major.  I knew I wanted to work with people, I just did not know in what capacity.  I knew just enough about my own skill set and what my passions where – that it would involve people.  I think it is a great illustration of being flexible as an undergraduate and honing your ideas and your life path (or professional path) based on what you find out as you progress through that journey.


3.  WM  I believe the first time we met was at the first Professional Development Institute in 2007; as a member of the Leadership of N4A – can you give us some insight into why PDi was created?

   KD:  It actually was the brain child of the N4A President at the time.  A gentleman that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, who has been a lifelong career mentor for me.  Steve McDonnell.  At the time, there was a group of us that had risen to academic advisors for student-athletes.  There was not a lot of layers or complexity to the units that we supported.  It was common practice if you were an outstanding advisor, that somehow – some way – someone would say that as a great academic advisor you would be a great director.  What was happening is that a lot of us were being promoted to a director role without any leadership experience.  It was based on the skillset on working with student-athletes.  Many of us were going into director roles without any experience on Staff, Management, Budget, Campus Climate & Culture, Strategic Planning.  We were all trying to figure it out as we went.


           4.  WM  How do you create work / life balance?

   KD:         I’m going to be really honest; I am not very good at it.  I think it is because I am so passionate about what I do and get so much satisfaction with the engagement that I get from our student-athletes first and foremost, and our coaches.  I have a very understanding and supportive husband, so he puts up with some crazy schedules.  I do a couple of things to the best of my ability.  I am a regular exerciser.  For my own stress level, once I got into the habit of paying attention to that (exercise).  I have a lot of interests in Leadership, and Leadership for Women specifically, outside of intercollegiate athletics.  I volunteer for a couple of leadership groups.  I spend a lot of time and focus on that (Leadership) and giving back.  My family is very important to me, so I create opportunities to spend time with not only my parents but my sister, her husband and their kids that live locally.  I think that keeps me mentally and spiritually balanced.  Finding outlets outside (of the workplace) and doing my best without beating myself up too much.  I want to be the best I can be for those people that I serve in athletics but (also) my family, spouse and partner.


  1. WM  What is one mistake you consistently see the next generation of young professionals make?

KD:  I would say, impatience.  Sometimes there is a lack of understanding or a lack of patience with building a career, or a foundation, over time.  There is a sense of urgency or expectation that they will move up quickly.  I’ll meet with folks in our graduate program here (at UW) that think they can be an Athletic Director in three to five years.  Build a career, a focus and a passion brick by brick.  Take every experience and opportunity as one to grow and develop.


  1. WM  For those in our field that aspire to be Directors, what is one specific piece of advice you would give them?

  KD:  I always had some great advice, and I was blessed to have great mentors, that helped me through different parts of my career and my development.  One piece of advice that I don’t think is outdated that they often gave me was to have the work ethic, or the grit, to out work everyone.  Be willing to work the long hours and roll up your sleeves.  Do the grunt work, so to speak, because you can develop a reputation for your hard work, integrity, commitment and your passion.  I think those things get you noticed.  That you are consistent and work hard.  That every single interaction is approached with integrity.

How Far Would You Go?


How Far Would You Go?

I often talk about the opportunities we have to enhance our relationships with the students under our charge, or the times available to us to lift them up. This is an area of emphasis for our program at the Student-Athlete Academic Center (SAAC) at FIU. So much so, myself and two team members (@Hglez9 & @aliriccobono) created the i3 group. i3 stands for iCreate iInnovate iInpsire. This group is charged with coming up with creative ways to connect with our student-athletes through innovative opportunities.

Together, we have established several new initiatives in the SAAC to drive positive attention towards our student-athletes. This past week, however, might be one for the record books. We wanted to showcase our Back to Back to Back Conference USA Champions, @FIUSwimDive, by coming up with an engaging way to drive social media traffic their way. We also wanted to acknowledge our @NCAA 10M Bronze Medal winner, Rebecca Quesnel, on her accomplishment’s this Spring.

The idea was organic and took root quick. Schedule an interview with Becca to discuss her performance, but to make it interesting – interview her where she is comfortable. 33 feet above the pool, outside in her elements, on a slab of concrete that sways when the wind blows. The idea, that began as a ‘what if we did’, took off like wild fire. Who could we get to interview Becca on the 10M dive? Why not pick someone who has issues with heights? We could use that to showcase how comfortable Becca is in her environment, while also showing how uncomfortable everyone else is when standing over 30 feet in the air. By doing so, we could emphasize just how amazing her talent and accomplishment truly Is.

So, how can we generate positive traction for @FIUSwimDive just off an interview? Easy enough – we could FaceBook LIVE the event and host a watch party for her teammates in the SAAC. We could promote the interview on our social media channels and throughout our program to get more eyes and ears engaged. We felt confident in our programming, but felt something was missing. In the end, we needed someone to literally make a ‘splash’. We started throwing out names. We wanted to find the person who would be least expected to be found on the 10M tower – and then more importantly – who we could convince to jump off?

As someone uncomfortable with heights – who doesn’t like sudden drops – and someone who would be least expected to be an ideal interviewer; our i3 group came to the same conclusion. Me. It was at that point that I had a decision to make. How far would I go to promote the success of our student-athletes? Would I be willing to step out of my comfort zone, and into the elements, to try and gain positive publicity for our worlds ahead students? Well, It looks like we are going to find out. Tune in this Tuesday at 1:00pm EST where we will FaceBook LIVE our interview with our NCAA Champion, Rebecca Quesnel, through our FIU SAAC FaceBook account (@SAACFIU).

It is our sincere hope that this project accomplishes the goal to get you to follow @FIUSwimDive, @FIU_SAAC and @FIUAthletics. As a Director, if there is anything I can do – such as face my fear of heights and jump off a 10M tower- to showcase our elite student-athletes, it is my hope that I always have the courage to do it. To me, the opportunity to show our students at @FIU_SAAC how we truly are student-centered absolutely outweighs the slight possibility of getting hurt.

Thank You for Reading my latest post!  Please be sure to tune in next Tuesday for the FaceBook Live Event, but ALSO be on the lookout for my next Interview with a Leader in Higher Education.  I’m excited to announce that Kim Durand, Senior Associate AD at The University of Washington, will be our next guest!

Feel free to reach out to me at any time!  📱 307-223-6429 🐤 @WesDMaas 💻 Wmaas@fiu.edu

‘A Conversation’ Coach Driscoll


For this week’s installment of my #LiveMaas blog, we will be focusing on Leadership in Athletics.  In an effort to bring the best content possible to my readers, I am excited to interview the University of North Florida’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Matthew Driscoll.

         📱 904-383-2786       🐤 @UNFBBALL          💻 M.Driscoll@unf.edu

 The Pittsburgh, Pa., native’s basketball coaching experience began in 1988 when he served as the head coach of his high school alma mater – Northgate High School. He served in that role from 1988-90 before stops at Butler County Community College and Seneca Valley High School, where he served as an assistant coach at both schools. From 1993-97 Coach Driscoll served as the head coach at LaRoche College in Pittsburgh.

 After assistant coaching stops at Wyoming, Clemson, Valpo and Baylor – He arrived at UNF in the Spring of 2009 where his leadership and vision led to the program’s first Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title.  His team then advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in university history, after claiming the ASUN Tournament crown in 2015. The Ospreys finished the year setting records in win totals overall and in conference play, while also ending the season ranked 20th in the CollegeInsider.com Top 25 Mid-Major poll.  His success continued in 2016 as UNF captured back-to-back ASUN regular season titles and participated in a second straight national postseason tournament, hosting Florida in the opening round of the NIT. 

You might have gotten to know Coach Driscoll through one of his viral clips:



(Due to time, we will condense the text portion of the interview while providing the entire audio link below.)

WM:  I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to get started – so, Coach – Welcome, and Thank you so much for taking the time to visit today.   

  1. WM:  How do you define your leadership style?

 MD:  There are so many ways to define your leadership style.  I would say mine is truly a servant leadership.  We (UNF Basketball) really believe, and have always believed, in being a solider in the army and that many hands make light work.  The greatest gift in life is the gift of giving.  Every single day, whenever I awake, the great thing is there is no dirt on top of you, so that’s a good thing.  I always make sure that I am trying to make a difference in someone’s life by just treating people the way you want to be treated.  We go about that on a daily basis, and I think when people see it – whether adults or your players or young people – they see you walk, they see you talk and can see what you are about.  

 One thing my dad always taught me when I was young.  No matter what you do, our Last Name is always on it.  Just remember, you are representing our family.  That stuck with me my entire life.  That is probably what helped create that entire idea of being a servant leader.  I take this very seriously.  And I take my responsibility and accountability to it seriously as well.  I believe every single day we can make a difference in someone’s life.  

  1. WM:  You have played a major role in the rebuilding of several programs as an assistant coach.  As a head coach, you have lead UNF to unprecedented success.  Can you describe your vision for building a program?

MD:  To me, there are five cores (five building blocks, five pillars, five key things).  

Vision.  If you think of it as a staircase, when you are standing on the bottom and you are talking about vision or where you want to go.  To me, the difference between great and good – in order to do that, a lot of leaders will stare with their eyes up the steps.  That (direction) is where we are going.  What separates the great ones is they step up the stairs.  They literally take those steps.  What Coach Matta (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thad_Matta) taught me was to celebrate those small victories.  Understand the importance of those moments as you are growing and your culture is becoming what you want it to be. 

Courage.  You can really separate leaders here.  You have to have courage to let people go.  Once you do make big decisions, you don’t bring in someone (to your organization) that has similar characteristics because you will be back in the same place.  Even when things are flowing well and everything is going in the right direction, you are still going to have hiccups, obstacles and setbacks.  There are three to five surprises that are going to happen every single day that you did not know about.  You have to have that courage as a leader to understand and help maintain.  

Passion.  We (UNF Basketball) want you to be all that you can be.  We pour into our students, and deposit passion into them, and we are passionate about these guys being as great as they want to be.  The by product of this is we are going to win.  Because we are going to have great players, who are really developed, who understand our culture, who understand that the greatest thing in life is to love one another – and that GOOD BETTER BEST should never rest until your good is better and your better is best.  When you pour all of that into your guys, you win.  Don’t be passionate about going to your job.  Because if you do, it is your job – and a job becomes mundane and then you become complacent.  You have to be passionate about making a difference every day.

People Skills.  Probably one of our great deficiencies in America.  Because of technology, we become less efficient in communicating.  I think we recognize that as human beings, but I think we have to continue to grow on that with our guys.  The one thing we use with our guys, the more genuine you are – the easier your people skills will be.  When you are genuine, you aren’t afraid to communicate – stop communication – redirect communication and that you know how to do it; how to do it politely and how to do it in the right manner.  

Trust.  There is no doubt, every person in the world wants to know they can trust you.  It is not even close.  Trust is the #1, most important thing there is in your life.  The best example of trust has to be this.  How does a 6’11”, 245 pound, 7’5” wingspan (student) of Nigerian descent trust a 5’8”, half Irish – half German, shorter arms than any alligator than you would find in any lake; how would he trust this guy to make him as great as he could possibly be to the point where he says, “Coach, I’m paying your expenses because you are coming to the NBA draft because I want you to watch me become a lottery pick”.  There was a trust factor there.  He knew I cared more about his heart than I did anything else.  http://www.baylorbears.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/udoh_ekpe00.html 

  1. WM.  What specific ways do you try and achieve work / life balance?

MD.  I remember when I was young in the business, Coach Shyatt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Shyatt) who is with the Dallas Mavericks now, told me that any time you are out you are always on.  I missed, early in my career, my boys.  More than I ever wanted to miss.  When I could, I tried to take them to school every day.  I tried to be at anything and everything I could be at when I was in town.  I would read to the kids at night, then go back to the office.  I was getting older and I was getting more mature.  It is as great as a necessity that I pour into them, so the guys see how important that is too.  Coach Drew (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Drew) really helped me to understand that as a leader, moving forward – that if you have balance, then your staff will have balance.  I think that when we demonstrate balance, then like everything else, people understand it better.  Do what you are supposed to do to the best of your ability.  Less Quick is better than More Slow.  My point is, just because you are doing more does not mean you are achieving anything.  It just means you are extremely active.  I think balance is very hard to do, and we don’t always have it.  We fail at it more that we want to admit.  Failure is never final, and you always have to make sure that when you get out of balance that you recognize it and then correct it. 

  1. WM.  In your experience, what are the common mistakes young professionals make?

MD.  I think number one, and foremost, is (thinking) how fast they can get to the top.  Everybody in this day in age wants to throw it in a microwave, hit 130 and boom – its ready.  Players want to do that too.  Young professionals do not realize that all of the experiences, all of the grind that lead to the evolution of … something … that they didn’t realize that (the grind) was going to lead to.  All those synopsis that take place in their growth is so critical for them to eventually get to where they want to get to.  Coach Shyatt taught me early on in my career that information is the most important commodity that there is in the world.  If you do not have all of the facts, you can never make a true decision on whatever it is.  Information is your #1 commodity.   

MD.  My cell phone number is 904.383.2786.  I prefer a text.  Make sure you include your name.  If there is anything I can help you (the audience) with, or anything I can send you.  @UNFBBALL is my twitter handle.  I would love to help anybody I can.  The one thing we have to understand is that this life is extremely short, and this world is extremely small.  You better treat people like you want to be treated.  

That is going to end our Chat today!  Thank you to Coach Matthew Driscoll on taking the time out of his schedule, and please be sure to follow along with my blog at www.LiveMaas.wordpress.com 

📱 307-223-6429    🐤 @WesDMaas    💻 Wmaas@fiu.edu




Editors Note:  In my introduction, I stated that Coach Driscoll’s team then advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in university history, after claiming the ASUN Tournament crown in 2014.  This should state 2015.  Also; His success continued in 2015 as UNF captured back-to-back ASUN regular season titles and participated in a second straight national postseason tournament, hosting University of North Florida in the opening round of the NIT.  This should state 2016, and hosting The University of Florida.  


You Actually Can Choose


For many professionals, Sunday mornings are for rest and reflection. For too many, Sunday’s also harbor the inevitable dread that tomorrow is Monday and the work week is about to start up again. Want proof? All you need to do is scroll through social media today. Unfortunately, it is easy to get consumed by the the issues that you know will surface in the upcoming week and before you know it, your Sunday is completely lost to negativity.

I lived in this mental space for several years early in my career as an administrator. Absolutely dreading Monday morning, focusing on the issues and not living in the positivity of the present. I had lost work / life balance, all of my attention was laser like focused on my role as an administrator. This type of mindset had negative affects on my friends and family, but ironically it also hurt my work output.

Looking back, I must have been a miserable friend. I am sure I complained all of the time and brought negative energy to everything I touched. I missed out on special occasions and was often distracted when I was present.

One night, after another regrettable day, I came home with complaints and frustrations. The same complaints and frustrations I had every night, most likely sounding like a broken record. Maybe the same complaints many of you have now.  My wife patiently listened, let me vent – and then offered me a challenge. “If you are so unhappy, find something else that makes you happy and go do it.” It was like a punch to the stomach. Something immediately clicked in my head. I was the one who chose to continue the cycle of negativity each week. It was not the circumstances of my position, my role at the time or even my peers in the office.

I had immediate energy and enthusiasm, it was as if I gave myself permission to pursue opportunities that would enrich not only my life as a professional but also my life outside of the office. It was not to long after that I accepted a role at a new institution. I consider it one of the best choices I have ever made.

For anyone reading this post today who is dreading tomorrow morning, I urge you – watch this piece by Gary Vaynechuck (@garyvee).

You absolutely have a choice. You have opportunity. You have people around you that will help you get where you want to be. Now, this might require some level of risk on your part. It might require additional education or professional development opportunities. You might need to take two steps back to take a positive step forward. Or – to pursue your dreams, You might need to move your entire family exactly 1892 miles across the country.

You actually can choose. Choose to live in the present and attack each day with positivity. Take time today to reflect on where you are, and where you want to be. Then make a choice, it is all up to you after all.

#ComingSoon! An Interview with our N4A President, LSU’s Assistant Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes, Kenneth Miles.

Please take a moment and connect with me on LinkedIn.  We GROW together!



Your Friends = Your Future


Show me Your Friends… I’ll Show you Your Future

Growing up, my family moved a lot. As the son of a Senior Chief in the Navy, you had to get used to the concept of change. Specifically, we moved from Jackson, Mi –> Orlando, Fl –> Jacksonville, Fl –> Cuba –> Puerto Rico –> US Virgin Islands and then back to Jacksonville where my father retired from the Navy. This was all in the time span from elementary to middle school.

There are a lot of people that see change as a negative, especially if that means uprooting your family and moving. For us, it was just a part of the job. As we moved from new environment to new environment, it became an essential skill to meet and befriend new people. As a kid, I never understood why my parents took such an interest in meeting my friends, getting to really know them and their families. I assumed it was their way of being too involved.

What I learned through experience was quite the opposite. Our friends play a significant role in our foundation – who we are as people. My parents were involved because they understood the influence friends can have and they wanted me surrounded by people who would make me better, not bring me down.

As a Professional, I challenge you that if you show me your friends – I can show you your future. Who do you surround yourself with? The negative majority or the positive minority? Are your friends grinders – or do they look for the easy way out? Are your friends positive influences on your career, encouraging you and your professional development – or are they drawing your attention away distracting you from your personal and career goals?

With our access to technology greater now than at any time in our history, we have the ability to keep friends close even when they are miles apart. It takes energy and effort to continue to keep friendships close. Hank Harrawood, Director of Compliance at UNC Charlotte, is the benchmark on this. I’ll routinely get texts or calls from Hank – just checking in, seeing if I need anything. This type of effort is needed to grow relationships and keeps bonds tight. He happens to also be one of the brightest ‘compliance’ minds in the country and should be on everyone’s short list of, “who would I hire when I become an AD one day…”.

Our friends are our foundation. Take stock of those around you. Sometimes in order to grow, we have to purge those from around us who aren’t of the same vision or mindset.

If you are interested in knowing my friends and trying to foresee my future… Just text me 📲. I’ll even introduce you to them. 307-223-6429. We grow together, or we fail together. .

Is Your Floor on an Angle?

img_0007Have you heard the theory of the angled floor? If not, this is great content for you. I first heard of this concept while working at the University of Wyoming under head basketball coach, Larry Shyatt.

The angled floor is a basketball analogy. Visualize a basketball court as a surface balanced in the middle between the offensive and the defensive end. If you want your team to keep the court balanced, then they give optimal effort on both the offensive and defensive end – making for a ‘complete‘ team.

Unfortunately- Players often put themselves before the team. In these types of situations, individuals see the basketball court in a specific way: in most cases, angled towards the offensive end. When the court is angled down towards the offensive end, the player is giving more effort towards one area of their game – the part of the game they want to do.  Visualize it this way.  The offensive end is slanted downward on the angle, meaning the player is running downhill with less resistance.  The defensive end would be on the high side of the uneven floor, making the player run uphill with more resistance.

Think about the most influential athletes of our time.  Those athletes they receive the attention, the ones our students idolize and hope to be.  What names stand out?  The Ones that SCORE.

Unselfish players give the same effort on both ends of the floor. This type of player competes just as hard on defense because they understand it is part of the game they have to do. They run as hard towards the defensive end as they do the offensive end, realizing that champions give optimal effort on both ends of the court. Unselfish players put the team first because they realize that by doing so, everyone is successful.  Now take a second to visualize those athletes that transcend the game.  Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James.  The ones that can domainate the game on both ends of the floor.

Consider your current profession. Place your role on a scale with the things you want to do (offensive end) and things you have to do (defensive end) on opposite ends. Is your floor balanced, or do you find yourself on an angle? Do you work as hard giving as much energy and effort to the things you have to do as you give to the things you want to do? If, through self-evaluation, you find that you are not giving a balanced effort, why not?

In each of our roles, we have every day tasks that we have to do vs the roles that we want to do. Let’s reinvest ourselves to the process every day to bring balance to our role(s) and provide the best support possible for our students. Balance your Floor.

Please consider following me through Social Media: Twitter, @WesDMaas / @FIU_SAAC Instagram: WesDMaas / FIUSAAC  and as always, #LiveMaas

Special shout out to all of those who assist me in the creative process and encourage me to continue moving the needle. Rumors are true, in an attempt earn more of the most desired commodity in our market (YOUR ATTENTION), I am going to take my blog from a written blog to a Vlog (Video).  Wait for it….  AM, LE, KC, TD, JB —> you know who you are and you are Absolutely essential to this process.


The Modern Office

img_0004The Modern Office

There is a great conversation ongoing by administrators in different communities regarding the Modern Office. I found myself fortunate to be on a conference call with professionals from both higher education & marketing this past week where this concept was introduced to me, and I have been drilling down on it every day since.

Growing up, my concept of the office was one of routine. My parents would leave for work every morning by 8:30am to start their work day at 9:00am. They would have an hour for lunch and then shut down and head home at 5:00pm. After fighting rush hour traffic, they would get home each night at roughly 5:45pm-6:00pm. Telemarketers did not exist yet, nor did caller ID. When the house phone would ring, it would solely be a family member or friend. I distinctly remember being excited when the house phone would ring, and I can’t recall a time growing up when someone from either of my parents work called our home during the evening or on the weekend. No emails, text messages or calls. The office mentality was solely Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm. My parents worked extremely hard and had to get everything accomplished during a very strict timeframe.

Let’s fast forward 20 years. My work day in the office starts by 6:00am, lunch is often at my desk and even though my ‘office’ day ends randomly each day between 4:00pm – 6:00pm, my actual work day ends about 10:30pm-11:00pm. My evening is a steady combination of home life with my family, as well as email, text messages, calls and progression on social media channels.

Technology has changed the Modern Office, but as administrators, we have not adapted to change our staff’s office hours. As part of our #SAACares initiative in the Student-Athlete Academic Center, we are changing this mindset. Our staff has the freedom to set their own work schedule based on when we can be ‘high touch’ with our student-athletes. That might mean coming in at 11:00am, but staying until 7:00pm. It could be traveling with their team to provide support on the road – or leaving early to go by a practice or attend a home game. We give our staff the professional freedom to take a day of professional leave if their teams are on the road so they can focus on personal or professional development.

In our Modern Office, we want to be where our students are, not chained to a desk because of the traditional office hours. If we want to be great at what we do, then the trade off is the inability to shut down at 5pm each day as the establishment has trained us to. The world around us no longer stops at 5pm and picks up the next day at 9:00am. I am lucky to be surrounded by like minded professionals at FIU. Dr. Elizabeth Bejar is the hardest working professional I have ever met. Ayssa Roza, our Associate Director, is often in the office until 7 or 8pm; only to return before the coffee is done brewing the next morning. Lyzbeth Armenteros has been known to work past 10pm with her track & field students. Donald Senat worked every weekend in February assisting our football program with the recruitment of the 2017 Class. Denisse Olarte comes in early on Sunday to help our students with math. Shirley Caballero, forgoing time with her adorable twins, travels with our men’s basketball program to make sure they have academic support on the road. Cristina Estevez stays past 7pm on Monday and Tuesday night so she can provide additional support for our baseball program. Alison Riccobono might literally live in our office as much as she is there.

At FIU SAAC, we take advantage of the technology that we have available to us to be effective communi1cators. We provide our cell phone numbers to our students, coaches and colleagues alike. Our Modern Office is not the established four walls with a window. We are where our students are.