No 40-yard runs or blocking drills.
More importantly, instead of punt, pass and kick the members of this team practice pitch, flip and cast.
Bullard is the first area school to field a bass fishing team under the Bass Federation’s Student Angler division. It isn’t actually a school event, but the team consists of Bullard high school students, calling itself the Bullard team and representing the school in competition.
The team was started by Bullard businessman Tim Haugh at the urging of his son, Kevin. After watching a college fishing event, the Haughs learned about the high school level competition and got the ball rolling.
“We signed up with the Bass Federation and the word got out,” Haugh said. “I was helping with his baseball team and had parents come up and ask me about the fishing team.”
The rules require that students be in high school. It just happens that four of the first fishermen that signed up for the Bullard team were all freshmen. Football experts would say that bodes well for the team’s future.
“We had 10 students sign up and they have been paired into teams,” Haugh said. He added that most had never participated in a tournament. Klint Nichols, who leads the team’s individual standings, is probably the most experienced fishermen.
To get the remainder a feel for the action the team’s first two competitions were intrasquad events on Lake Palestine and Lake Tyler.
They got their first real competition recently in a tournament on Cedar Creek Lake against three teams from Kaufman High School and three from Forney.
“We brought four teams and I am proud to say all of our kids brought in fish,” said Haugh, a member of the East Texas Bass Association, who knows how difficult Cedar Creek can be for bass in the summer.
Haugh said what was really good was to watch the kids from the different schools eventually lose their timidness and start talking to one another on the shore.
Under Bass Federation rules, each team must be accompanied by an adult on the water. The adult, called the captain, drives the boat when the big motor is being used. They can also operate the trolling motor and help net fish during competition. Beyond that, their job is like a coach.
Teach and offer advice, but no participation in the event.
“It is really hard not to fish,” Haugh admitted.
Haugh said that finding captains hasn’t been an issue with parents always willing to participate. If that does become a problem members of the ETBA have already offered help.
They have also received sponsorship help from several businesses including American State Bank, Tyler Ford, Davis-Green Body Shop, Porter’s Sporting Goods, Farmers Insurance, Heritage Land Bank and Brass n’ Blades.
While there isn’t any other nearby school with a team, besides Forney and Kaufman there are some squads in Dallas and Sulphur Springs has a team. One of the top programs in the state is at Marble Falls.
But this is Texas, and even bass fishing takes a backseat to football in the fall. With most members of the Bullard team also playing football, this has become their offseason. Team competition will start again after the first of the year. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any fishing. With an off week Sept. 29 the team will hold a fundraising open high school team tournament Sept. 29 on Lake Tyler.
For more information on the team or tournament, go to www.bullardpanthersfishingclub.com or for information on forming a school team go to www.bassfederation.com.
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