I have had people who follow the Missouri high school fishing program ask me why we should recruit schools to sign up with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) bass fishing program, especially since high school tournaments are starting to spring up through various organizations such as the Student Angler Federation and B.A.S.S. Nation programs.
Our group has been striving to help establish the MSHSAA program ever since we approached MSHSAA about a bass fishing program back in 2008. So here are five reasons why we should do all we can to get at least 50 schools signed up with the MSHSAA program to start a state championship series.
The success of the Illinois High School Association bass fishing series. The high school bass fishing program set up by the Illinois state association had 250 schools compete in its Sectional tournaments this year. I know of no other high school program ran by other independent organizations that have that many schools signed up in one state.
Athletic directors recognize MSHSAA. When I spoke to athletic directors at MSHSAA regional meetings in 2009 and 2010, several of them told me they liked the idea of a bass fishing program for their school, but they wouldn’t consider starting a team unless it was ran by MSHSAA. One of the main reasons they wanted MSHSAA to administer the program was MSHSAA’s catastrophic insurance policy.
MSHSAA’s large membership. Largely by word-of-mouth, 20 to 30 schools have entered high school tournaments we’ve held throughout the state the past two years. According to Harvey Richards of MSHSAA, there are about 597 high schools that are MSHSAA members. Imagine how many schools would fish our tournaments if we had MSHSAA spreading the word through its membership ranks about high school bass tournaments.
Media recognition of MSHSAA. I have been able to get our high school tournaments some publicity through my connections with other outdoor communicators throughout the state but haven’t had much luck with the general television, radio and print media types who cover all sports. They don’t seem to have much interest in publicizing high school fishing until I tell them it is considered an emerging activity by MSHSAA. They know about MSHSAA since their media outlets cover other MSHSAA events such as baseball, football, basketball, track and field, etc.
Stipends for coaches. Republic High School Coach Jim Huson, who has been instrumental in working with MSHSAA on the bass fishing program, brought up a key point about how schools will probably never pay a high school fishing coach whose club is affiliated with another organization, but might eventually pay the coach a stipend if the school is signed up with the MSHSAA program. Many of the Illinois high school fishing coaches weren’t paid when the IHSA program started, but now I have heard from IHSA officials that some coaches are now being paid because the schools have seen how beneficial the IHSA program has become.