Bassmaster.com has asked our team of writers and staff to reflect on their favorite moment of 2016. Tyler Wade McCollum is the former B.A.S.S. Nation editor and frequent contributor to Bassmaster.com.
My favorite moment was when Lilly Lavigne ran up to the stage to be with her dad after he won the 2016 Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation Championship presented by Magellan Outdoors.
The entire tournament, I was seated next to Ryan Lavigne’s wife, Jenny, and Lilly. Lilly, who is 5, spent most of her time trying to run up on stage, especially on the second day when her dad sat in the hot seat for the entire 2 1/2-hour weigh-in. Jenny spent most of her time trying to keep Lilly behind the barrier.
At 5 years old, Lilly didn’t understand the implications of the tournament — the Classic berth, the trophy, the grinding hours on the water. She only understood that her dad was up on the stage, and that was where she wanted to be.
When Ryan won, Jenny let her loose, and Lilly flew up to the stage. Ryan was juggling two bass, a trophy and a 5-year-old.
It’s a reminder of the family support these anglers enjoy. On every stage — from the Nation Championship to the Classic to every B.A.S.S. High School event — the person holding the fish is not doing it alone. They’re counting on spouses, kids, friends, and moms and dads, who sometimes drive thousands of miles to be there for them, cheering them on whether they win or lose.
And moments like these are what they live for.