Arriving at the dock in the early morning hours, an afternoon venturing across Florida’s blue coastal waters awaits. Alongside your fellow Seminoles, the anticipation of weigh-in looms back at shore, but it only heightens everyone’s excitement as the winners of the Renegades of Reel Estate Fishing Classic are announced. As Founder and Chair Dan Paulus explained, “It’s a picture we want people to remember 20 years from now.”
The Renegades of Reel Estate Fishing Classic was established in 2018 to bridge the gap between Florida State University alumni and friends living and working within the real estate industry in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“I’ve always been a lifetime fan of FSU, and I wanted to not only be able to stay connected to the university but to continue building relationships with local alumni,” Paulus shared. “I believe people get lost in the notion of ‘Well, I don’t fish.’ I like to emphasize we’re not avid outdoors people, but jumping on a boat for a day may not be the worst afternoon to get to know each other and our businesses.”
Organized by a board and committee comprised entirely of volunteers, the Renegades of Reel Estate Fishing Classic hosts boating teams as they compete in a signature day-long fishing tournament. Prizes are awarded, including for both top female and youth anglers. As their platform broadened, including hosting various networking events throughout the year, the committee saw an opportunity to pay it forward beyond identifying FSU enthusiasts in their communities.
“I had no idea what Dan was talking about when he first approached me with the idea, but I heard ‘Florida State’ and ‘needs help,’ so I was on board,” committee member Brian DePotter shared. “We understand this is our chance to give back to the university we are proud to be associated with, and witness FSU students thrive by providing them the resources they might not otherwise have.”
In 2019, the Renegades of Reel Estate donated $15,000 to benefit the FSU Real Estate Center and, with state matching, provide four scholarships for students actively engaged in the FSU Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement for the fall 2020 semester. Additionally, due to the organization’s leadership and fundraising efforts, Paulus was able to commit $25,000 to establish the Renegades of Reel Estate Scholarship in Real Estate, which will continue to support undergraduate real estate students within the FSU College of Business for years to come.
The Renegades of Reel Estate have also been enthusiastic about opening up their events and fishing classic to current FSU students, helping them learn and form key relationships among the area’s real estate industry professionals. DePotter explained, “Our long-term vision is more than just a one-time contribution. As a first-generation student myself, it’s been my passion for providing the guidance I know would have been helpful to have as a student, and I’m glad we’ve been able to incorporate that aspect into the fishing classic.”
This past June would have marked the 501(c)(3) organization’s third annual fishing tournament, but it was canceled out of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Renegades of Reel Estate already have their calendars marked for next summer.
“We firmly believe we’re going to come back bigger and stronger than ever,” Paulus expressed. “It’s truly a labor of love from all of us, and we’re excited to continue seeing people, even with no immediate relationship to FSU, spread the word about our mission.”