There is only one team at Virginia Tech that can boast a National Championship. They have no organized practice time, no scholarships and no official uniform.
Virginia Tech's bass fishing team started out with a handful of members in 2007, and has now tripled in size, won numerous tournaments, and is ranked at the top of several collegiate polls.
Unlike other college sports teams, the anglers pay for their own bait, provide their own boats, and drive their own cars cross-country to tournaments.
"That's the thing about being a college angler. You really don't have a lot of leftover money. There's a lot of zip ties and duct tape," comments Andrew Jackson, one of the VT's bass fishing team members.
While the team has been able to get a few sponsors, a large, national sponsor would offset some of the costs.
"It would be nice to have the club to the point that everything was funded. And that we didn't have to put out as much of our own money," says Pat Snellings.
Virginia Tech has three, two-person teams competing in this week's Northern Conference Championship at Phillpot Lake in Henry county this week (Sept 13-15).
Radford University also has a bass fishing team, with four members participating in the tournament at Philpott Lake. Below is a list of the anglers from Virginia Tech and Radford participating.
- Virginia Tech - Jody White, Shaftsbury, Vt., and David Bryant, Covington, Va.
- Virginia Tech - Carson Reizer, Blacksburg, Va., and Preston Chrisman, Radford, Va.
- Radford University - Blaine Chitwood, Wirtz, Va., and Brett Meyn, Mechanicsville, Va.
- Radford University - Ryan McCarthy, Chantilly, Va., and Steven Jarrells, Radford, Va.
Virginia Tech bass fishing club president Jody White, like others, has taken part in tournament fishing since he was a child.
"At tournaments, it's all about teamwork," says White. "You and your teammate try to compile your five best, and biggest fish to win out."
Winning won't come easy.
Twenty college teams will be competing for a Ranger Z117 bass boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard motor.
Even the pros admit it will be a challenge.
“It’s a beautiful lake, but the fishing is going to be tough,” said three-time angler of the year and Castrol pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va. “Any time you fish during the summer-to-fall transition it makes fishing tough. The fish tend to spread out so you can’t key in on any one area.
Carson Rejze, with Virginia Tech's team, grew up along Virginia's eastern shore. "It was a big transition going from saltwater to freshwater fishing," he admits. But the principles are still the same. "We go out and try to account for the weather, water clarity, water temperature, barometric pressure, time of year. Everything goes into what these fish are doing."
Several on the Virginia Tech team are majoring in fish managment. Virginia Tech's program is one of the nation’s largest in freshwater fisheries, emphasizing management of recreational fisheries and endangered species.
Preston Chrisman grew up in Radford and has fished most of the area's popular lakes. He admits, "there's added pressure on us because this lake is so close to home."
"I'd really like to be holding up the winning trophy at the end," says Chrisman.
Finishing in the top five would mean a trip to the National Championship next year.
FOR FISHING FANS
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Thursday and Friday from 2–4 p.m. and Saturday from noon–4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors. Fans can also learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
SCHOOLS & ANGLERS PARTICIPATING IN THE TOURNAMENT
Fairmont State University – Ryan Radcliff, Parkersburg, W. Va., and Wil Dieffenbauch, Hundred, W. Va.
Glenville State College – Brandon Abbott, Gandeeville, W. Va., and Nick Lambert, Oceana, W. Va.
La Roche College – Jonathan Coholich, Allison Park, Pa., and Richard Smith, Cheswick, Pa.
Michigan State University – Thomas Rumpf Jr., Perrysburg, Ohio, and Luke Baker, Lansing, Mich.
Ohio State – Jeff Moorman, Bloomingdale, Ohio, and Quinn Miller, Carrollton, Ohio
Ohio State – Kyle Feucht, Marysville, Ohio, and Tyler Berger, Worthington, Ohio
Ohio University – Larry Helmers and Matthew Tarr, both of Athens, Ohio
Penn State – Grae Buck, Perkiomenville, Pa., and Jessica Moldofsky, Worchester, Pa.
Radford University – Blaine Chitwood, Wirtz, Va., and Brett Meyn, Mechanicsville, Va.
Radford University – Ryan McCarthy, Chantilly, Va., and Steven Jarrells, Radford, Va.
Ramapo College – Jeffrey Voss, Secaucus, N.J., and Joseph Zapf, Whippany, N.J.
Shippensburg University – Kevin Hollasch, Marriottsville, Md., and Jonathan Miller, Keedysville, Md.
Slippery Rock University – Benjamin Tawney, Stoystown, Pa., and Corey Randour, Washington, Pa.
State University of New York-Plattsburgh – Brendan Bolis, Canton, N.Y., and John McDougall, Queensbury, N.Y.
State University of New York-Plattsburgh – Chris Benninger, Grand Island, N.Y., and Richard Lee, Port Kent, N.Y.
University of Akron – Rob Conley, North Canton, Ohio, and Austin Levering, Caledonia, Ohio
Virginia Tech – Anderew Jackson, Lebanon, Va., and Patrick Snellings, Fredericksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech – Jody White, Shaftsbury, Vt., and David Bryant, Covington, Va.
Virginia Tech – Carson Reizer, Blacksburg, Va., and Preston Chrisman, Radford, Va.
Xavier University – Ty Styons and Ian Goddard, both of Farfield, Ohio
VIRGINIA TECH BASS TEAM LINKS
Virginia Tech Team Website | http://hokiebass.com/index.htm
RADFORD UNIVERSITY BASS TEAM LINKS
Radford University Team Website | http://www.radford.edu/comefish/index.html