“To support the football team and see snow.”
“To not witness a blowout and to see Florida International University (FIU) get wider attention.”
Those hopes from Anezka Martinez-Rios (BBA ’01) assistant to the executive dean and the associate dean of the College of Business Administration, and Clifford Perry, associate dean, Landon Undergraduate School, came true on December 26, 2010 when they were among the fans on hand to see the Golden Panthers win in dramatic fashion against the Toledo Rockets—34-32—in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, Michigan.
“We saw people in FIU gear at the Fort Lauderdale airport and in Detroit we stayed at the same hotel as the team, so we were psyched,” Rios said. “The energy was amazing.”
It was her first trip to the Motor City. She had never seen snow and got to experience flurries, a snowball fight and the image of Roary making snow angels.
Bowl game mingles with homecoming of a personal sort.
For Perry, the trip was a homecoming. He’s from Detroit and got to spend time with his sister, Judy Whitlock, who still lives in there. It was also a validation of his long-term support for the football program.
“I am an original season ticket holder with seats on the 50-yard line at our stadium,” he said. “I’ve been excited by the progress we’ve seen under head coach Mario Cristobal, and it was wonderful to see FIU getting wider recognition, including for our ‘Worlds Ahead’ campaign.”
Not only did the snow cooperate so Rios could enjoy it, but also the whole team, and FIU in general, benefited. Because of the collapse of the roof at the Metrodome, the Minnesota Vikings game against the New York Giants had been postponed. That meant the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was the only football game on that Monday night. And though the FIU fans were outnumbered, “our Panther Pride was clearly heard,” Perry said.