Paxton Rhoads grew up a Florida State fan, visiting the campus where his father and aunt attended school and watching games. Coming to FSU was a goal – as was being a student-athlete.
“When I started swimming, it was kind of a dream to get here and be able to be a student-athlete,” Rhoads said. “A dream come true to be able to be here, represent the ‘Noles day in and day out.”
Rhoads represents the Seminoles in the pool but is also an advocate for athletes across campus as FSU’s student-athlete advisory council (SAAC) vice president, and he will be promoted to president for 2020-21. SAAC focuses on student-athlete welfare and mental health as well as promotes a connection between the Seminoles and those in need through community service.
“There would be no Florida State without the community around it,” Rhoads said. “So being able to do our part and give back in any way I can and try and encourage my teammates. I feel like it’s more of just paying it forward. Just making sure that as we go on, more and more Florida State athletes that come after me do it so we keep that good relationship up.”
A swim team captain in 2019-20, Rhoads finished third in the 200 breaststroke with a career-best time of 1:59.78 at the Auburn Invite. He also took first place in the 100 breaststroke and third in the 200 breaststroke against Florida Southern. Rhoads has also been named to the prestigious Torchbearer 100 list, which recognizes FSU’s exceptional undergraduate student leaders.
Rhoads has served as SAAC vice president and was an easy choice to serve as president in 2020-21.
“Some of the qualities that we look for are just things with the resume,” said Ashton Henderson, FSU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development. “Someone who can effectively communicate, someone that can galvanize the group in terms of helping ensure that everyone has a mission, making sure that we remain mission-driven and hold everyone accountable. That’s something you can’t do without peoples’ respect. There’s a reason that he ran uncontested because that’s how much his peers respect him. It’s his time to shine.”
Rhoads is majoring in finance and real estate with a minor in communications. The junior from Tampa still has plenty of time to figure out what he wants to do after graduation and is interested in banking, real estate and the business of sports. He interns with the Seminole Boosters and also spent last summer as an intern with AMB Group, the parent company of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.
“I got to see firsthand how the franchise runs and how they’ve been able to finance the stadium, how they keep it maintained and everything,” Rhoads said. “Got to see all the player contracts and help organize that, which is pretty neat.”
Rhoads said he is working with SAAC’s vice presidents to help set a list of priorities for the group in 2020-21. With athletes living back home and spread apart, he’s looking to ensure the connection remains strong for the future.
“Our big thing now with COVID-19 is just trying to unify everyone and make sure to lift everyone up because obviously these are really tough times,” Rhoads said. “You never know what’s going on with anyone back home. So we’re just trying to make everyone feel like they’ve got a sense of normalcy coming soon, and that Florida State is always behind them 100 percent of the way with their teammates, their academic advisors, their coaches, anyone.”