BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine presented by Skeeter kicks off on Sept. 16, 100 gifted anglers from 22 states will have the opportunity to showcase their talents for a host of college coaches and earn college scholarships. The three-day event will be held on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala.
The inaugural High School Combine in 2021 generated more than $2.6 million in scholarship offers.
“Response to the High School Combine has been incredible,” said Glenn Cale, B.A.S.S. Nation tournament manager for the College, High School and Junior series. “The fact that high school anglers are traveling here from as far away as Minnesota, New Hampshire and Connecticut really speaks to the massive growth and appetite for high school and college bass fishing over the past few years.
“Hearing anglers share from the weigh-in stage at the High School National Championship that they were heading on to fish in college as a direct result of meeting a coach at the inaugural combine was a huge testament to the impact this event can have on the sport and the skill level that will be on display.”
At the High School Combine, anglers will perform multiple tasks to show their skill set not only on the water, but also to display their knowledge of the sport as a whole. After the first day, colleges will have the opportunity to select anglers for a “second look” where they can further explore everything that angler has to offer and see if they would be the perfect fit for their fishing program.
“I’m looking forward to seeing anglers from across the nation and what they can do,” said Corey Yarish of Trophy Club, Texas. “Coming to this combine is going to allow me the opportunity to showcase my abilities like I would not otherwise be able to. I’m looking forward to meeting the coaches and all the great anglers to talk about the sport. I would love to get a scholarship to pursue my dream of fishing in college and an education.”
While some anglers are looking for a college where they can compete next year, other student-athletes hope to learn from the 2022 High School Combine and establish relationships for the future.
“I’m hoping to gain experience for next year’s combine and (am) curious to meet the college coaches and get their feedback about the way I fish,” said Matthew Melvin of Fairfield, Iowa. “I’m definitely going to be a little nervous, but if I think of it as being fun and getting me experience then a lot of that nervousness should go away.”
Briley Mills of Dallas, Ga., attended the inaugural High School Combine as a sophomore and hopes to build on that experience. Mills is one of several anglers who is returning to the combine as an upperclassman.
“Through the first combine, I learned that there are endless opportunities for young ladies like me to pursue fishing at a collegiate level. I am currently looking into different colleges as well as their fishing programs to find out what is the best fit for my future,” Mills said.
The opportunity to meet individually with prospective anglers is critical for coaches.
“The combine has given me the opportunity to meet and recruit anglers that I would’ve never been able to evaluate otherwise,” said Campbellsville University Coach Tony Miracle. “It also gives kids the opportunity to meet and talk to universities and coaches that they never would’ve had the chance to meet. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for both sides.”
The following schools have committed to participating in the Bassmaster High School Combine:
- Auburn University
- Blue Mountain College
- Campbellsville University
- Carson-Newman University
- Catawba Valley Community College
- Dallas Baptist University
- East Texas Baptist University
- Emmanuel College
- East Tennessee State University
- Faulkner University
- Kentucky Christian University
- Lander University
- Louisiana State University – Shreveport
- Southeastern University
- Troy University
- University of Montevallo
- University of North Alabama
- Webber International University
The 2022 Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine presented by Skeeter is being hosted by Decatur Morgan County Tourism.