GEORGETOWN, Ky. — When Coach Shawn Combs talks about his Georgetown College bass fishing team, he usually has to issue a disclaimer that his school is not the university known for its great basketball program.
However, Combs does hope one day he can coach his college bass club to a national championship title and have as much success in the fishing world as Georgetown University has had with its basketball program. He also hopes his team’s path to success will be shorter than his round-about route to becoming the school’s bass fishing coach.
After graduating from high school, Combs went to work in a factory, got married, had kids and fished in local bass clubs. Later, the Cynthia, Ky., native decided to enroll at Georgetown College in 2013 for the opportunity to join the school’s bass fishing team.
When Combs joined the team, he noticed the club’s hierarchy was dwindling because its volunteer coach, Rex Huff, was busy fishing tournaments, and the club founders had graduated. So Combs decided to lead the team as a student-coach to keep the program afloat.
“I was left with learning how to do a lot of stuff fairly quickly to keep the program going,” Combs said. “So I started doing my own recruiting and started managing the money for the program. The college liked what I was doing because I was bringing in more students to fish, which meant more money for the school.”
During his four years of college fishing, Combs’ best effort in a Bassmaster college event was in the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Wild Card, in which he and teammate Bronson Jones finished 18th at Lake Barkley.
Combs’ abilities to fish competitively and handle leadership duties at the same time compelled the university to offer him the bass program’s head coaching position on a full-time basis after he graduated this year. Combs, 38, accepted the offer to become the school’s first official bass fishing coach and take on the challenges of luring recruits to his alma mater.