Day 1: Scalish Classic daily diary

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Rachel Scalish walked through the door of the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham on Monday morning and was overwhelmed by the size of her husband's dream and the scope of the 32nd annual CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic.

 Frank Scalish of Cleveland is making his Classic debut, finishing 30th in his first season on the CITGO BASSMASTER Tour. Although he has fished in bass tournaments since his college days at Ohio State University, Scalish finally committed himself to becoming a full-time tournament pro two years ago.

 "It is something he has wanted all of his life," said Rachel Scalish, a municipal attorney for the City of Cleveland. "Some people have told me how wonderful I am to let him head out on the trail and spend 150 days a year away from home. But you want those you love to be happy and it was a matter of do it now, or forget it."

 Rachel Scalish knew the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic was a big deal.

 "I just didn't realize how big until we walked into the hotel," she said, still wide-eyed after meeting many of the top stars of bass fishing. "Frank has been to the Classic as a spectator, but this is my first bass tournament of any kind. It is so overwhelming."

 Scalish, 41, owns a marketing and advertising company in Cleveland. He has dominated smaller tournament trails around Ohio and the Midwest and is showing that he is ready to compete with America's top bass anglers.

 The trip to Birmingham started out very well for Rachel and Frank Scalish.

 "This is the first time Frank and I have had a week away from the children," she said. "The trip from Cleveland to Birmingham was like a honeymoon. The last time we had just a weekend alone I was pregnant with our second child."

 The Scalishes have four children: Frank, 12; Noah, 6; Rosie, 3; and Joshua, 15 months. Young Frank is already a regular in his father's bass boat.

 "On the drive down we stayed in little Columbia, Tenn., had a few drinks and ate alligator bites," she said, with a laugh. "But the closer to Birmingham we got, the quieter Frank became. I don't know how he approaches a tournament, since I've never been to one. He's been getting quieter and very serious. He's counting on me to keep him on schedule so he can focus on the fishing."

 The Classic is much more than just the crowning event of the CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail. Classic Week is the annual celebration of the sport of bass fishing that attracts B.A.S.S. members and other fishing fans from across the country, who come to meet their fishing heroes, attend the weigh-ins and participate in youth and other fan-friendly events.

 The launch venue for the event will be Paradise Point Marina. The exciting CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic weigh-in show will take place in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. With the exception of the launch site, all of the venues for the event are located in close proximity.

 ESPN and ESPN2 will offer same-day coverage of the Classic during the last three days of its Bass Week programs, which will air from 5-6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 July 22-24, 4-6 p.m. on ESPN2 July 25 and 26, and 7-11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 and 7-8 p.m. on ESPN July 27.

 Additional information

 By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its B.A.S.S. Federation, B.A.S.S. is the world's largest fishing organization. The CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after more than three decades. B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.

 Sponsor information

 Sponsors of the 2002 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic include: CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Chevrolet Trucks, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Kumho Tires, Long John Silver's, MotorGuide Trolling Motors, Bass Pro Shops, Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools, and B.A.S.S. Platinum Visa/First USA.

 Associate Sponsors include Bass Cat Boats and G3 Boats.

 The 2002 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic will be presented locally by the State of Alabama, City of Birmingham, Jefferson County and Shelby County.

 For more information contact: the CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic Media Center at (205) 458-8339.