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Part II, Competitive Fishing: A new school of thought

Posted: July 3rd, 2013 by Bill Dance

(Note: This is part II of a blog on the phenomenal growth of competitive fishing in high schools.)

In my last blog, I noted the phenomenal growth in team bass fishing among our nation’s schools. Of course, I have always been a promoter/cheerleader for the sport of fishing, so I see this interest among our youngsters as really exciting times.

Mark Gintert is Executive Director of the Future Fisherman Foundation (FFF) (futurefisherman.org). He says the movement toward angling in high school as grown to approximately 10,000 in about three and a half years.

Gintert said FFF’s Student Angler program, an effort to jump-start competitive school fishing) provides a turnkey package for schools to get involved. “We cover all of the major objections like insurance coverage, fundraising, educational materials and events to participate in. We make it as simple as possible for the school or club to get started,” Gintert said.

He also noted the program reaches an entirely new group of students who otherwise wouldn’t be engaged by their school. “A lot of these kids are outdoor oriented! They may not be the best athlete in their school but in this sport you don’t have to be. It is also a Title IX* dream for most schools as you can put boys and girls together on a completely level playing field.” (*Title IX is an Educational Amendment that leveled the playing field so to speak, provided female students equal opportunity in school athletics.)

He believes the sky is the limit for the Student Angler Federation (highschoolfishing.org) program. This year Gintert said they will run will run over 40 state championships, three national opens which includes the High School Fishing World Finals, five regionals and a High School National Championship.

“We have seen our numbers grow in almost every state and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon!”

He added that the FFF is also building a program that involves the junior high school level with program that is designed to lead them toward the formation of a school club.

“I would not hesitate to think that in a few short years we will have over 25,000 high school anglers which will dwarf the college program in size once it gets rolling in every state,” he said.

See, I told you the prospects of competitive bass fishing in our school systems is exciting. And you know what? This kind of involvement helps kids fit in at school. If you can remember back (in my case WAY back), to when we were in school, the one thing we all wanted to do (other than fish) was fit in. I guess that’s part of being a youngster?

But in addition to the social aspect, I really believe such programs will create smarter anglers. And as I hope all of you know, I have long been a proponent of teaching people to fish and care for our sport. Of course, smarter anglers, likewise means more ethical anglers. Hey, it’s also a chance to create better stewards for our waters.

I really think these kind of programs are an excellent way to provide a better foundation for our sport’s future.

Competitive fishing in schools sure sounds like a winner to me.

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance

Tennessee

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