By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
A national championship in any endeavor is to be celebrated to the fullest. That’s what Alabama Governor Kay Ivey did recently when she unveiled a proclamation recognizing the accomplishments of the University of Montevallo (UM) bass fishing team at Beeswax Landing on Lay Lake.
As part of the Montevallo President’s Outdoor Scholars Program, the 52 anglers competing for the Falcons earned enough points in the three collegiate bass fishing trails to be named the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year. The three trails were Major League Fishing (MLF) Abu Garcia College Fishing, the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series and Collegiate Bass Fishing Series.
“Well done, gentlemen,” Governor Ivey said at the presentation. “How wonderful to win a national championship in something you love to do. We have much to look forward to in this generation, as they pour their passion into learning the importance of a good work ethic and enjoying the outdoors while conserving our natural resources. Hats off to the University of Montevallo Outdoor Scholars Program for giving these students that opportunity.”
William Crawford, Director of the President’s Outdoor Scholars Program, said the recognition from Governor Ivey is special.
“It was such an honor for Governor Ivey wanting to be a part of this to celebrate the accomplishments of these guys,” Crawford said. “We were thrilled Governor Ivey’s office had reached out to us and wanted to do something to honor these guys for their hard work and achievement.”
When Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, saw that Montevallo had reached the pinnacle of collegiate bass fishing, he reached out to Governor Ivey.
“Any time a team from Alabama wins a national championship, it’s a big deal, and we’re really proud of the school,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “But, also, I think it says a lot about the type of fishing we have in Alabama, that a team from here that practices a lot in Alabama, competes a lot in Alabama can have that success in a nationwide capacity. It really speaks to the great bass fishing we have in our state.
“When I contacted the Governor’s office, she was really excited about Montevallo winning the championship and wanted to recognize them. The Governor really wanted to do the presentation on the water, not at the Capitol, where she could accentuate the reservoirs and fishing we have in Alabama.”