Classic provided a beacon of hope

I didn’t do well at the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, but now that I’ve had three weeks to reflect, aside from hoping I’ll get another chance to be a part of it someday – I realize it’s not about what I caught – but instead, what I carried away. 

I hauled home memories of being shown respect and encouragement from Bassmaster Elite Series anglers like Aaron Martens, Chad Pipkens and Dean Rojas. Also the realization that my willingness to speak of my faith on bass fishing’s biggest stage made a heavy impact on a ton of people no matter how light my performance as a competitive angler was.

I’m guessing there were at least 15,000 people inside Tulsa’s BOK Center when I stepped on the stage at the Day 2 weigh-in.

I knew I had no chance of qualifying to fish the third and final day, so I made sure I thanked all those that had supported me most on such an incredible journey to bass fishing’s biggest event. Along with thanking a list of great companies that support me like Carhartt, I thanked my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Before I could finish the sentence – the crowd began to roar with approval and support. To say the fans overwhelmed me would be a huge understatement.

Right after the weigh-in, my mom said, “Your finish was way less important than you witnessing for Christ, Trevor – did you hear how the fans responded?!” My dad, who is an elder at our Beacon of Hope church, and could easily win the Northern Pike Master Classic, if there was such an event, stood beside mom proudly confirming her thoughts.

And then, out by the concession area at the arena, I saw Clay Dyer.

For those of you who don’t know, Clay is a 37-year-old Alabama angler who was born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side, and a partial arm on the right. He still competes in the Bassmaster Open Series, ties his own knots and tows his own boat with a specially equipped Tundra.

Clay’s motto for life is, “If I can, you can.” And among the dozens of motivational speeches he gives each year, churches highlight his list.

Clay told me how proud he was of me for giving my brief testimony on stage. To hear that from Clay was an awesome wave of reassurance that I’m doing the right thing, no matter what I catch.

So while the 2016 Classic won’t be my best tournament, it will always be an event where I did my best as a young college angler, and carried away a sense of pride for something even bigger than bass fishing.