by Tommy Abbott
The high school team as a team
This is where it gets ugly and opinions hit the fan. I left this out of my original Facebook post because it’s controversial, but I’m deciding to include it here because, well, it’s important in my opinion.
Ask yourself this: How much of a “team” is your school’s team really going to be? How far will the leaders and captains go to ensure success for the team as a whole? I’m not talking about cheating here. I’m talking about developing anglers and teams to compete as individuals and entire teams.
Isn’t that the goal of any sports team? Shouldn’t anglers and teams improve just like any sport team?
Remember: Good high school programs, or programs on the rise, have a “team” game plan. It can be done without divulging secrets, but if done correctly, teams on a particular school team can learn from each other for the good of the whole team. The mark of any good high school program is placing high in the team standings week in and week out. There will always be multiple talent level teams within a school fishing organization just as with any sport with their athletes, so the problem becomes whether or not individual teams continue to self preserve, or do they help the “team”?
No one expects any single team to divulge secrets or spots. That would be unethical. But sharing, as a team, ahead of any tournament, what you are seeing as far as possible patterns, or how weather could affect the event can be taught and shared. Elite fishermen could teach what anglers might see in the scenarios for any given body of water at a given time of year. This will benefit the team as well as develop anglers for the team as a whole.
Coaching and teaching should be a focus
Recaps after tournaments are one of the best tools a high school team can use to develop the skills of their team's anglers. The entire team having a meeting to let those who had success share how they were able to catch fish under that tournament’s conditions and in the location the event was held.
All this can be done within the confines of proper ethics. Bethel University is one of the most successful teams in the college ranks, and their team thrives on a “team” mentality. Their anglers are better for it and of course it shows how well that mentality can keep a team on top. If you don’t know about them, go look them up.
Lastly under this subject, encourage every young person on your high school team to join a Junior Bassmaster organization. Our local club is Jr. Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs, and in the club, these kids have the opportunity to fish 11 tournaments a year outside of their high school tournaments against very stiff competition. They start at 7 years old, and by the time they finish high school they’ve fished more tournaments than some pro fishermen. If you don’t have a local Junior Bassmaster club, start one yourself or find someone who will.
The team as a family
These are some things you can do to help your team bond.
Please make sure you talk to the other team families. Especially the incoming freshmen. They have no idea what to expect. Help them navigate the fishing world and everything that goes with it. Help them feel a part of the team family they are joining.
Share the things you’ve learned and that planning early is crucial. Encourage them to get those rooms, RV spots or cabins booked the first day the schedule comes out.
Travel in packs. Share expenses with other families on your team or even other local teams. Make sure everyone gets to spend time with the team at every tournament. Have cookouts, have fun and fellowship.
Enjoy the off the water experience just as much if not more than the fishing. Make your high school fishing experience a family affair.