Former high school champ giving back as boat captain

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Courtesy of Tommy Floyd Jr.
Tommy “TJ” Floyd Jr. (center) returned to his alma mater to serve as boat captain for South Florence High School anglers Matthew Trussell (left) and Jackson Salley for two tournaments. He also captained James Gibbons and Piercen Lynch during the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at Lake Hartwell and the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at Kentucky Lake.

South Florence, S.C. — Tommy “TJ” Floyd Jr. is going the distance to give back to his high school alma mater’s bass fishing team.

The 2017 Bassmaster High School National Champion travelled 12 hours each time for three tournaments to serve as a boat captain for his alma mater, South Florence High School. “I wanted to give back to the high school fishing team,” Floyd said. “They did a lot for me especially Jeremy Trussell, my coach. So I felt it was something I needed to do.”

Floyd moved to Paris, Tenn., where he works at Bowling Green Marine and began attending Murray State University last fall. He made the long trek from Tennessee to South Carolina three times to mentor two South Florence High teams, one of which included James Gibbons, his partner in the 2017 Bassmaster High School National Championship they won on Kentucky Lake.

In his debut as a boat captain on Feb. 24, 2018, Floyd helped coach South Florence teammates Matthew Trussell and Jackson Salley to a victory with 17.9 pounds in a South Carolina Lower State Trail tournament at Santee-Cooper. Floyd also served as the boat captain for Trussell and Salley when they finished third with 16.3 pounds and had the big bass of the tournament (5.9 pounds) April 7 in the South Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation High School State Championship at Lake Murray. 

Reunited with Gibbons in a new role, Floyd captained Gibbons and Piercen Lynch during the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods April 14 at Lake Hartwell. Gibbons and Lynch finished third in the Open with 16 pounds and won the big bass award with a 4-pound, 15-ounce largemouth. Their third-place finish also qualified Gibbons and Lynch for the 2018 Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods. Gibbons and Lynch finished 81st out of 337 teams in this year’s championship with Floyd as their boat captain.

Floyd said he enjoyed serving as a boat captain and plans on doing it again in 2019. “The enjoyment of seeing the kids do what they love to do is the biggest reward I can get (from serving as a boat captain),” Floyd said. “That just makes my day right there.”

Coach Trussell was impressed by Floyd’s dedication to mentoring four of the anglers from his high school team. "Once a young man has graduated high school there are many things in life he has to concentrate on for the betterment of his future,” Trussell said. “It shows the character of TJ who is willing to give back to his former teammates as a boat captain to help them achieve their goals in high school fishing.”