Wauwuwatosa West “Future Business Leaders of America” Team Competes at Nationals for First Time Ever


Annabelle Wooster, Editor

“I couldn’t believe it, we didn’t know how we did it,” said Wauwatosa West junior, Will Flierl. 

When Will Flierl, Connor Neikirk, and Dylan Watters headed to Madison, Wisconsin on Monday, March 28th for the Future Business Leaders of America State Competition, they had no idea that they would return as qualifiers for nationals. 

Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is a club at West that works towards preparing students for business related careers. Students in FBLA compete in academic competitions, leadership development opportunities and other education programs. 

“One of the biggest parts of FBLA is the competitive events. There are over 50 different competitive events ranging from impromptu speaking, website design, computer game simulation, political science, (and) Accounting…At the regional, state and nationals level these competitions consist of objective tests, presentations, and projects” explained Flierl. 

Flierl, Neikirk, and Watters compete in the ‘Banking and Financial Systems’  branch of FBLA where they take a test followed by an on the spot presentation. They made it to the state competition by placing in the top three at regionals in February. However they knew they needed to up their practice habits for state if they wanted a chance at moving on. 

“Some of the ways that we prepared for the competitions included doing quizlets and kahoots that included questions that related to our category. Some of the things that we did to prepare for the second part of the state competition included looking at some laws that had to do with banking as well as looking at some financial advice from financial advisors” said Watters. 

They also addressed their weaknesses in past competitions and looked at past tests to better prepare. 

“[We] strictly practiced vocabulary terms that relate to Banking and Financial Systems. In the first 2 competitions we had, vocabulary was very important since it was a multiple choice test. We [also] studied by looking over previous years presentations and making note of what they did well. Our final competition to make it to nationals requires us to give a spoken presentation on a given situation. So, looking over how others presented gave us a feel of how we should do it,” said Neikirk. 

The team did everything they could to practice together but when it came down to competition day, they were separated between different time zones. Neikirk was on his way back from a spring break vacation in Hawaii. 

“The first day we were without Connor meaning we had one less person to help with the test leaving us at a disadvantage,” said Flierl. “We ended up taking the test and…returned to our hotel (to wait) for the results. We found out we placed top eight, qualifying us for the impromptu presentation the next morning. We had to text Connor to let him know we made it to the second round.” 

While good news for the team, this now meant that Neikirk had to drive to Madison from Milwaukee after landing at 6:00am on nearly zero hours of sleep in more than twenty four hours. 

This wasn’t the only obstacle the team faced. They also had to follow a strict dress code to maintain professionalism.

Dylan needed different shoes because he was told that his shoes didn’t comply because they were part fabric. When Connor got in from his flight he had to get his proper clothes and grab spare shoes from my house so our group wouldn’t be deducted points for not adhering to the dress code,” Flierl said. 

In the end, the team was able to pull it together.

“Connor got in at 9:50am, just enough time for Dylan to switch shoes and 10 minutes to review quickly as a group. Around 10:15am we sat in the holding area for our presentation until we were called back,” recalled Flierl. 

For some of the members the waiting was the worst partt.

“While waiting the nerves definitely kicked in. To try to calm ourselves we went over a lot of aspects that might come up in our event,” said Neikirk.

When their turn came up, the team focused on what they could control and made sure to have a pointed performance. 

“We made sure to shake hands before and after presenting and we spoke loud, confidently, and smoothly. Leaving our room we felt somewhat good but we needed to place fourth or better out of eight,” Flierl explained. 

And that’s exactly what they did. When the final placements were announced, it was revealed that Neikirk, Flierl, and Watters placed 4th, the highest any team from West has ever achieved at the State competition. 

“It felt pretty good, as we had worked for the past three years on this competition, it felt good to see our hard work pay off,” Watters recalled of hearing the announcement.

The team credits their success to their hard work and determination, but also to their advisor, Mr. Heiting. 

“Our amazing advisor Mr Heiting has been at West and running FBLA for as long as we know. He has helped facilitate all the FBLA events,” Flierl said. 

For anybody interested in learning leadership skills, business expertise, and competing in academics, the team shares this advice: 

“Within the club you can make many connections and get to know like minded people. Even if you have very little interest in the business world, you will soon realize that everything is intertwined with economics and business. FBLA is a great way to get involved and it can greatly expand your horizons,” Flierl continued. 

The team will compete in the National competition in Chicago from June 29th to July 3rd. Wish them luck as they become the first team ever to represent Wauwatosa West in this National competition!