2012 Elite Series Ramada Championship Oneida Lake - Syracuse, NY, Aug 23 - 26, 2012

Backstage @B.A.S.S.

Meet first, “…hey babe.”

Max Leatherwood.

“Hey Babe,” with Max applies to guys, to gals, to workers, to kings.  Max’s Babe, is the equivalent to my, Dude.

No disrespect is meant or implied with either, it’s just our way of leveling the field of play.

Max is the guy that examines all the bags of fish before the Elites walk on stage.  He counts the fish to make sure all are alive, measures the small ones, and smiles at the big ones.

Max…59 years old, spent 32 years as a college teacher, and instructor in computer programing since 1975, now retired, “Yeah db, I go way back in the computer game, in fact I put together the first personal computer ever to be used in a school in Montgomery.”

I smile, thinking that the first interaction back then between man and machine may have started exactly like this,

“Hey Babe.”

To Max’s right sits Gretchen Sheppard, Manager of Event Administration, “I take care of the taxes, scoring stuff, the administrative aspect of all this.”

Gretchen has been with B.A.S.S. for 11 years, “It was my first job out of college, thought I was just going to do it until something else came up.”

What came up was marriage, what came up was, “…this gets in your blood, it is a lot of work, but I would miss this, these guys.”

Gretchen waits on the signal.B.A.S.S.Gretchen waits on the signal.
Gretchen nods to the Elite anglers standing in line to see Max.

As you watch and look close Max checks the fish, then his left hand drops down to his side, and he gives a silent thumbs up to Gretchen who then, now working the verification table enters into a computer the anglers name and “5 fish, all alive.”

Before you hear the name of the Elite Angler , you hear the music they walk on the stage to, “They hear what I do, they just don’t see me.”

Shannon Fontaine is the sound dude who plays all the music you hear…the music you hear when nothing is going on, and the music that every angler takes with him to the stage.

Shannon is retired from the United States Naval Reserves. 

Please know this, the man behind the music, is an American Patriot.

When the man behind the music plays the National Anthem, watch him, watch him stand tall, watch him never take his eyes off the flag, watch him mouth the words, and now know why he does it:

“I was active in Desert Storm, then in 2006 I was on active duty in Iraqi Freedom.”

Know that the song is being played by someone who fought for our right to raise that flag.

“…they're the first to come and last to leave
they'll set it up in another town…”