Earlier this year, the Emanuel County Board of Education okayed the addition of a few new sports across the district, including bass fishing (a GHSA-sanctioned championship sport) at both Swainsboro High School and Emanuel County Institute.
Because both schools have held their interest meetings already and because the season will begin in January, The Chronicle sought information from coaches at both schools about the logistics of starting a program like this and what is coming down the pipe for these athletes.
Swainsboro High’s coach has yet to respond, but look for updates accordingly. Amy McBride, however, is heading up the bass fishing team in Twin City, and she returned an email on Friday.
According to the coach, she became involved in the new initiative when all other potential coaches were tied up with other commitments.
“Being a small school, many of our coaches are involved in multiple sports. Our assistant principal approached the faculty about the opportunity and I considered it, but I don’t know anything about bass fishing,” McBride admitted. “Then, with one week left to register students, I asked if anyone was available to coach. Unfortunately, all of our coaches that had considered the position had conflicts. I told my administrator I didn’t have experience but that I Ioved our school and wanted this opportunity for our students.”
Since identifying a coach, ECI has held its interest meeting. Thirty-one students came out that day—a number that unfortunately dwindled in the end after finding out they would need access to a boat and an adult to be a captain.
The roster has now been finalized to include seniors Trevor Radford and Bray Sherrod; sophomores Anna Hayslip, O’Zion Reese; and freshmen Olivia Boatright, Hunter Lane, Spencer Lawrence, and Weslyn Snellgrove.
They will begin tournaments starting January 22. Three other tournaments follow: one on February 12, another on March 19, and a final one on April 16. Then, comes the state championship on May 14. During these outings, the Bulldogs will compete against schools from all over the state as opposed to those in their assigned region.
When asked what the team needs to do to be successful in its inaugural season, McBride says the anglers need to keep it simple, just have passion, and work hard.
“Our students have heart, and they will work to be successful. What our team needs most is community involvement in the form of boats and captains. With community support, more of our students could participate. With that said, I think all the students are excited, and we’ll see them lead in their own way to make this program their own. Some of our team members have been wishing for this sport for several years, and I am glad that they get to be part of making history for ECI,” McBride commented. “As a first year teacher, I’m not sure when it was decided to add bass fishing or who supported the decision. However, our students were excited to hear it was approved, and I know we will have a fabulous year. The plan for this season is for this to be a learning year for the students and myself. We plan to learn all we can about the sport and how to improve our team as we go along.”