The Auburn Bass Sports Club Team outside the President's mansion with Dr and Mrs Jay Gogue.
FLW Outdoors Magazine editors have ranked Auburn's Collegiate Bass Sports Club, number one in the nation. Auburn finished last year ranked number two in the top 25. FLW Outdoors sanctions collegiate sport fishing tournaments, as well as a series of professional tournaments each year.
Some may read this and be thinking, "Auburn has a bass team?" I have to admit that was my reaction when I learned of the reality from Robert Melvin (one of its members) during tailgating at an Auburn Football game. Robert just graduated in December with a major in Communications.
I was surprised to learn from Robert, that since the club was started four years ago, these Auburn athletes have won numerous tournaments, had two athletes named as All Americans (Shaye Baker and Dennis Parker), have had graduates go on to the semi pro ranks, won a national championship, and have given Auburn close to $50,000.00 in winnings from the National Guard FLW College Fishing Series.
As a result of their accomplishments as well as their contributions to the Auburn University Foundation, President and Mrs. Jay Gogue honored the Tigers at a meal function last May at the President's Mansion.
Dr Gogue was quoted as saying "We are very proud of the club members and their dedication to being student-athletes who represent Auburn so well. The club is among the top organizations at Auburn that truly give back to the university and the community."
It currently has 30 members and was primarily established to compete against other universities in bass fishing in a team format.
The club has four qualifying events each semester to determine which members represent the fishing team in intercollegiate events. Three to four two-men teams are sent to tournaments throughout the southeast.
Competitive bass fishing is not your grandfather's fishing with a cane pole and a can of worms. It's work, hard work. Athletes have to catch the biggest fish in a specified period of time and wins are based on the top-five catches.Thus far this year, Auburn is undefeated.
I asked Robert what he would say to anyone who doubted that competitive fishing is a sport. "Well there is definitely skill involved and the anglers spend tons of practice time on the water." He added, "To be competitive these guys have to be committed to practicing as much as eight to nine hours a day honing their skills, just like any other athlete."
Bass fishing is the fastest growing collegiate sport in America. For Auburn to be ranked number one is no small achievement. That is especially true when one considers there are more than 235 schools that have college recognized fishing clubs; including the SEC, ACC, PAC 10, and Big 10 conferences.
Club Advisor Jann Swaim said, "We are very grateful to the tournament sponsors and to Auburn for providing the opportunity to participate in these events. The tournaments provide great experiences for our students and at the same time generate funds for Auburn."
"(But) we don't focus on winning prize money. Our goals are to maintain a high ranking through out the year, to represent Auburn to the highest standard, and to have pride in being a part of Auburn."
Well these unsung heroes have definitely brought pride to the Auburn family with their victories, their donated funds to the university, and their number one ranking. I know the Auburn family joins me in saying thank you men and congratulations. Good luck this year and ...