We had a very productive meeting with Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) official Harvey Richards about the MSHSAA stance on high school bass fishing as an emerging activity. Attending the meeting were Mike Eutsler of Lew’s Fishing, Missouri B.A.S.S. Nation Vice President John Blankenbeker, MO B.A.S.S. Youth Director Susan Eagan, Republic High School bass fishing coach Jim Huson, Mike Webb and JP Sell of Bass Pro Shops, Teen Anglers Tournament Director Randy Conlon, Park Hill South High School Coach Gary Soske and myself.
During the meeting we discussed several issues that our group was concerned about when MSHSAA starts its own bass fishing series and how it would affect tournaments such as the Teen Anglers circuit and others that are being held now. After the meeting I noticed everyone seemed to be satisfied with what MSHSAA is trying to accomplish with their own plans and cooperating with the existing events being held.
One of the key concerns is only 36 schools are currently signed up with the MSHSAA program and MSHSAA needs 50 schools signed up for three years before it becomes an official activity and a state series and championship can be held. Everyone agreed that the schools in Southwest Missouri are carrying the program right now and we need to focus our efforts in luring more schools from the rest of the state into the program. This could be accomplished by having more high school tournaments held at other lakes across the state such as Mark Twain, Truman, Mozingo, Wappapello and Clearwater. So far, tournaments have been held at Table Rock, Stockton and Lake of the Ozarks.
Another key issue was the awarding of scholarship money for the top finishers in the high school tournaments being held now. Richards told the group that Teen Anglers and the other tournaments held so far have followed the right procedure for awarding scholarships to the top finishers and the scholarship winners would be eligible to fish the MSHSAA series and championship as well in the future. However the MSHSAA series and championship would only be awarding ribbons and trophies to its top finishers.
Richards told us that MSHSAA won’t allow individual high school anglers to be sponsored by fishing companies, but the fishing companies can sponsor high school clubs and provide gear and tackle to the schools which would then dole out the product to the kids. MSHSAA will also allow the kids to wear jerseys with sponsor logos, but Richards says individual schools might have a policy against the wearing of such jerseys depending on the school’s advertising policy.
The meeting also answered some other questions for me about certain requirements which I thought were MSHSAA rules but turned out to be up to the individual school policies. School policies rather than MSHSAA seem to dictate the requirements for hiring a bass fishing coach and the transporting of the student anglers to a tournament.
In summarizing the meeting, it appears MSHSAA welcomes the support and donations that will be offered by Corporate America and hopes its program can coexist with Teen Anglers and any other tournaments fishing companies want to sponsor. MSHSAA also has grand plans for its own series of tournaments culminating in a championship with livestream coverage provided by MSHSAA’s own television network. Add in all the coverage from the various media outlets that follow all of MSHSAA’s events and our bass fishing movement would receive the most publicity ever in the seven years since we brought this idea to MSHSAA.