Nobody would argue that attending college is a life-shaping event. But, for me, the two years I’ve been fortunate enough to compete in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship have also shaped my life forever.
Certainly, being able to win the whole thing last year and earn a berth to the 2013 Bassmaster Classic rewarded my soul and placed me in the media spotlight in ways I never could have imagined. I can only hope I’ve handled that sort of attention in a way that made everybody, including the hardworking people who wear Carhartt, very proud.
Yet, for all that winning the 2012 Championship meant to me personally, it’s meant an awful lot this past year to my brother Jordan, my parents and our friends, too. Now my college roommate Tom Frink and his fishing partner Jacob Nummy, who won the 2013 Carhartt College Series National Championship a few days ago, also are having their lives impacted in a super positive way by this incredible event.
What a phenomenal experience it was there on the campus of Georigia’s Young Harris College, near Lake Chatuge, to have 10 of us college guys fishing in the final round of the competition, and one of them was my brother, three of them were close friends of ours, and yet another was my roommate Tom, who was on the winning team.
It’s real humbling to experience that kind of success in the company of so many great teams from nearly 70 colleges and universities from all over North America, including places as far away as the State of Washington, and even Mexico.
But there’s way more to this event than simply crowning a national champion, hanging out with other college bass anglers and finding yourself in front of a camera whose footage will air on ESPN2.
More importantly, there are moments of personal reward that through the first 24 years of my life have not occurred anywhere else but the Carhartt College Series National Championship. Moments like having a stranger tell my dad, as I spoke on the weigh-in stage, “That’s a real humble kid; he’s gonna do real well in life.”
That moment meant more to my mom and dad than any trophy I could ever win. And it occurred in front a bass tournament weigh-in stage on the campus of Young Harris College.
Sadly, soon, my brother's and my college bass fishing careers will be over. But man, again, the rewards we’ve experienced surpass words. They’re the sort of thing that can only be experienced by heart and soul, and that’s exactly why we both know for certain that our college experiences are the powerful foundation for our hopes of a tremendous future in the sport.
We look up to so many of the guys that are full-time pro anglers and can only dream of how cool it would be if Jordan and I could accomplish the incredible things that Bobby and Chris Lane have. If we do, you can be sure of one thing; we’ll always look back and credit the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship as an event that shaped the rest of our lives, and served as the ultimate foundation for our dreams coming true.