It was the summer of 2009, and I was about to start my senior year at Auburn University. For three years, I had been a part of something special at Auburn, the birth and beginnings of the Auburn University Bass Fishing Team. A lot of good friends and good fishermen came together to start something special there. Collegiate bass fishing was a new creature on the rise, and we loved every minute of it.
That summer I met a kid that I had heard a lot about. It was a new “recruit” that our bass team was after. A high school kid from Cullman, Ala., that couldn’t have weighed 140 pounds soaking wet. But this kid could fish. He’d won most of what you could win for a guy his age and had even started making a name for himself in the Weekend Series ranks with a couple wins on his home lake of Guntersville. At 18 he had slain some of the biggest local sticks on what was, at that time, the best and most popular lake in the country.
As the newly appointed president of the Auburn University Bass Fishing Team, I stopped by to help out with a local high school tournament and meet this prodigy face to face. His name was Jordan Lee; and although he didn’t win that day, I knew, as a club, we definitely did.
I saw the potential in Jordan right away and I coerced him into a plan that I had hatched. You see, at Auburn you had to compete for your spot on the traveling team within the university’s bass team, which consisted of 25 to 30 anglers. Each semester, we’d hold a series of club qualifiers with the most consistent anglers of the semester qualifying for intercollegiate competition.
So I posed the idea to Jordan that if we could finish first and second in the club, we’d be able to fish the 2010 season together and have our pick of whatever intercollegiate tournaments we wanted to fish. As fate would have it, he and I finished the fall semester on top separated by a mere two points.
Our first tournament of the year was the College Fishing qualifier on Lake Okeechobee. It was one of the first days we’d ever spent in a boat together, and we had to finish in the top 5 to advance to the regional championship. This was our only shot, as the rest of the top 8 from the club qualifiers would be competing in the remaining College Fishing qualifiers. As fate would have it, we won.