EVANS, Ga. — Today, Kristy never took center stage.
She didn't catch any fish.
The pole never danced in her hand. The tip never moved.
I watched as she never took her eyes off the water, even when she brushed back hair the shade of vanilla.
She changed grips, left hand, then right hand, shifted from one leg to another. Leaned, stood straight, frown lines across her forehead came and went.
Then suddenly, a huge smile, something bit, but then it was gone, the fish, not the smile.
But Kristy never walked across the WBT stage today.
It wasn't Kristy's time. Not to be.
Her mother wouldn't let her.
Kristy is only four.
And while each Women's Bassmaster Tour Pro took the stage ... 100 feet away ... the future of the WBT was fishing for catfish in a child's pool.
And that's why being one lake away from history is so important, because when that lady angler steps onto center stage with the men of bass at the Classic this upcoming February, the eyes of the world will be on her.
But none more so important than the eyes under the vanilla hair.
Your daughter's eyes. Your granddaughter's eyes.
From the middle of the Academy Sports + Outdoors parking lot I watched WBT Present and Future unfold within 100 feet of each other.
As the pro's took the stage, the children took to the portable catfish pond. Their mother's and father's gentle hand helping to guide the fishing pole and child.
And if you think this stuff doesn't matter, you need to listen to what 10-year-old Madison Roberson told me, "Mister, I came here to sign up to fish with the WBT, where can I do that."
Behind her, 6-foot-4, 250-some pounds of Dad stood, bright white teeth blazing under a baseball cap, "This here is my daughter Madison, and she's a Bass Assassin, aren't you honey?"
Change is coming far from center stage.
Change is coming one pole at a time.
Change is coming one pond at a time.
Kristy and Madison will see to that.
Don Barone is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Other stories of his can be found on Amazon.com. For comments or story ideas, you can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.