Add fishing to the many sports in which Aledo High School students are great.
The Aledo Anglers Club will be sending four teams to the Texas High School Bass Association State Tournament Saturday and Sunday (June 18-19) at Toledo Bend Lake.
Competing for Aledo will be the teams of senior Jack McAdams and junior Carson McCone, seniors Wyatt Young and Garret Cutler, seniors Reid Smith and Weston Hudspeth, and the freshmen duo of Grant Seay and Zach Summerhill.
The quartet qualified by scoring in the top 50 percent of the recent Texas High School Bass Association Central vs. West regional tournament on Lake Richland Chambers, where Aledo had 10 teams compete.
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McAdams and McCone topped Aledo with an eighth-place finish, bringing in four fish weighing 14.93 pounds. Also, Young and Cutler were named the West Division Anglers of the Year.
The club is the brainchild of Leigh McAdams, parent of Jack and team sponsor. As he was entering his sophomore year in school (2013-14), Jack and his mom began researching the possibility of starting a club in Aledo. They then went to Aledo High principal Dan Peterson with the proposal.
"Mr. Peterson was in full support, as long as we had a faculty member who would be willing to act as the club sponsor," Leigh said. "Jack had some ideas about whom to approach, as fishing types seem to migrate to one another, and he set about networking among the faculty to find someone who might be willing to take the job."
Meanwhile, Leigh continued her research. She learned of the Texas High School Bass Association, which was also in the early stages of development out of East Texas and looking to expand west.
"That's where I came in and became the West Board of Director," Leigh said. "So, we had our tournament circuit, but no faculty sponsor, that is until Jack discovered that his Algebra II teacher, who was new to the Aledo School District that year, Coach Brad McCone, is an avid fisherman."
Coach McCone's son, Carson, is now Jack's fishing partner at state.
"I thought it would be just a fishing club, but it has turned into a tournament club," Brad McCone said. "I think the success of the club comes from all the senior leadership we have had this year and the help of Mrs. McAdams."
Also qualifying for regional were seniors Garrett Pruett and Sam Sponsler, sophomores Brandon Bartholow and Christian Duncan, sophomores Ryan Bartholow and Ethan Boone, juniors Tanner Knight and Garrett Hill, and sophomores Ryan Walker and Sean Doyle, and junior Brandon Dominguez, who fished as a single.
Other team members include junior Jet Weatherly, sophomore Will Roubicek and Allye Kennemer (the lone girl on the roster), and freshmen Gage Scott, Braden Huffman, Waylon Salmon, Bill Parkhurst, Steven Panagopolous and J.T. Wilson.
Leigh emphasized the importance of the club's volunteer captains, parents/community members who assist with each tournament.
"Some are able to commit every tournament and some just captain a team when they can," she said. "But every one of them give their time generously and helps add to that cohesiveness within the club. We could not send 10 to 12 angler teams out per tournament without our volunteer boat captains."
The club has more than tripled from its original roster. Seven of the original team members were still on the squad this season, McAdams, McCone, Dominguez, Weatherly, Moncrief, Young and Smith. Caleb Buchanan has graduated and is playing football at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Several members of the team also play other sports.
"Many of our anglers played football this year. We also have cross country runners, basketball players, a softball player, and a kid who plays the cello in an orchestra," Leigh said. "Most all anglers are outdoorsmen and are hunters, dove, deer, turkey, quail whatever the season, they are out there. This IS Texas."
Along with competing in pairs mostly, Leigh said the club treats fishing as a team sport.
"We meet before tournaments and share information with one another, giving reports of where on the tournament lake anglers have had success. That is, what time of day were the fish biting? What baits were used at what depths?
"Information sharing is a very touchy subject for competitive tournament fishing, but I insist that we as a team work together within the confines of tournament rules. There's a huge learning curve to tournament fishing and the new kids, even those who have fished stock tanks since they were 3 years old, soak up information like a sponge."
Tournament rules are challenging. Each team of two may bring in a total of five fish, and tournament placing is decided on total weight. In scoring, a team can be penalized for reporting in late at the end of the day - a pound per minute subtraction.
"If you're 15 minutes late, you zero for the day, regardless of how many fish you bring in," Leigh said. "If a fish dies, you are penalized, which emphasizes the importance of taking care of your fish while they are in your live well."
Leigh said the sport's popularity is rising, both at Aledo and throughout the state, with the THSBA doubling in size since last year. Shortly after creating the club, she had t-shirts made that became popular with the student body.
"To be sure, we in Aledo are highly competitive and we are good at winning. Why not win at fishing?" Leigh said. "It's one of the few sports where Dad gets to participate in the sport with their kid. The student teams must have an adult boat captain, and these tournaments give many dads a great excuse to get out on the water and enjoy some wholesome competition.
"It is a life sport. There is no age limit to enjoy fishing. No one blows out their knee fishing. They may endure sunburn, windburn, and a rare trip to the ER to remove a hook, but nothing that requires crutches, surgery, and lingering pain.
"Most anglers get better at fishing through years and years of experience."
Oh, and there's yet another reason, a very popular one, Leigh said.
"The jersey," she said. "The jersey is way cool, and only anglers and boat captains have one."
For more information about the Aledo Anglers Club and other high school teams, visit www.texashighschoolbassassn.com.