1997 JR. BASSMASTERS CHAPTER
The Maryland Jr. State Team traveled to Sandusky, Ohio for the second annual Jr. Bassmasters Chapter Invitational. All 8 members attending were ready to do their best and all of Maryland should be very proud of how well these young people represented us. There were compliments from their captains on their efforts and as for the rest of the trip, their behavior was impeccable. I was very proud to be associated with this fine group of young people and also, very grateful to all of their parents who really chipped in and worked so hard to make this a memorable experience for the young people. Every time I turned around a parent was asking - what can I do to help? Thank you all very much!
The trip started with members driving and flying out on Thursday. We arrived at the campground throughout the day and enjoyed the facilities pool, game room, and just being there. Plans were made for the Friday trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park and everyone explored the town and had dinner on their own.
Friday morning the families joined forces with the New York families and all headed for the park. They were there to open the gates - and everyone had a ball. They tell me that those are the best roller coasters there are - so they say! Being the only sane one in the whole Maryland contingent - I traveled with the Ohio lady contenders and went antique shopping all over that part of Ohio. But the reports from all of the parents as well as the kids were that it was a fantastic park and that you really needed two days to do it in - but not one of them even suggested giving up fishing the next day to return to the park!!!
Friday night brought a pizza party for the Maryland team followed by a meeting with all of the states teams and representatives. Each state was introduced by our host Pete Matthews, the Ohio Jr. Invitational Tournament Director, and the agenda for tournament day was reviewed.
Saturday morning started with a breakfast and the team pairings. The hats that the Kerchals brought were drawn from a box with numbers in the brims - captains also received hats with numbers and the match was made. A caravan of vehicles supplied by Ohio took the kids and families to the launch site which was several miles from the campground. The weather was threatening - but it looked like it would move through quickly. Upon arrival at the tournament site a captains' meeting was held and the boats were put in the water. About half way through the launch the weather became very nasty, and it was necessary to pull the kids off the water and wait for the storm to pass through. Rain would not have slowed us up, but it was a heavy duty electrical storm with very strong winds - not a good combination for a youth tournament. So after a 1 1/2 hour delay - we started again, this time to sun and calmer waters. A 1/2 hour extension was added to weigh in time to give the kids more time on the water.
The experience of fishing new waters with no knowledge of what to expect was very educational for our young anglers. While not that many had success at the weigh in, the experience this early in their tournament careers proved very rewarding. Several of our team members mentioned how much they had learned and were already trying to figure out what they would do differently - next time!
After the weigh in, the contestants and their families were chauffeured back to the camp ground where we were given time to freshen up for the banquet that was held in town that evening. The event was held at the Sandusky Elks lodge, and proved to be a wonderful opportunity to recognize the young people for their efforts. The food was excellent, everyone was in high spirits, and all and all it proved to be a great ending for the tournament. Every contestant went home with gifts, and the winners were going to need an extra vehicle to get their goodies to their home states.
Upon return to the camp ground the team spent the evening rehashing the days events and sharing experiences and just plain having fun. Spirits were high, friends had been made, much had been learned, and all in all - it was a ball. We were all tired "puppies" when we went back to our little houses!
We would like to thank some very special people for their support and for making this happen. We will start with the Maryland Federation -your dollars were well spent gentlemen. You have given 8 young people an experience that will help them make wise decisions in the future. Your contributions went a long way, and will keep on paying for many years to come we thank you.
To Pete Matthews and the Ohio Federation volunteers - thank you so much. This step into the future of: Jr. Bass Federation Chapters is so valuable to our sport and you assured the future of the event and did it well!
To Ray and Ronnie Kerchal - your support is like a pillar of strength for this activity. The Bryan Kerchal Memorial Fund has proven again that the courage to dream is what we need to give our children! Thank you my friends, you are the best!
There are some special people here in Maryland that need a thank you as well. Dave Lacey of Bay Graphics has always been a strong supporter of our youth program - and he came on board with this tournament right in the beginning - and stayed on board with it. His window logo's adorned several vehicles at the Ohio tournament from the Maryland tournament in 96 and now his 97 stickers are there too! His special gift to the Kerchals of framed copies of both logos was presented at the banquet and they were delighted. Thank you Dave for your continued support.
Carol and Willie Cook and Al and Cindy Smelgus of Edilon are one of our strongest supporters and they also sent some special goodies for the winners of the tournament. They come through every time and we want them to know that it is folks like them that make our program what it is. Thank you very much for all of your contributions.
There were many other folks who made contributions to the tournament in Ohio and to all of those folks - we thank you so very much! I am sorry I don't know all of your names but I do want you to know that we in Maryland do appreciate your support!
The results of the Ohio Tournament are as follows:
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