By Rick Favire, VP- Federation Nation of New Jersey
The Federation Nation of New Jersey, a State Chapter of B.A.S.S., held it’s first ever Youth Invitational on Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, June 28th, 2008. The invitation was extended to other state organizations around the country and the accepting States in attendance were Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and of course New Jersey.
This event would have not been possible if not for the generous donation from the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund. “Bryan Kerchal had a passion for fishing that brought him both joy and peace. It was not just a sport or a hobby to him, fishing was a way of life. He dreamed of becoming a professional bass angler. On July 30, 1994 Bryan realized his dream. At age 23 he was the first amateur to win the BASS Masters Classic. This success launched his career in professional tournament fishing. Sadly, Bryan's career was cut short when he died in a plane crash four months later.” as quoted from the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund website. A special thank you goes out to Ray and Ronnie Kerchal who are Bryan’s Dad and Mom. A video was shown detailing Bryan’s remarkable story.
Each State decided on how to choose their Youth Competitors for the event. There are two divisions of Youth Competitors which are divided by age groups 11-14 and 15-18 years of age with three in each age group. Six Youth Competitors comprised the State team which would fish with a Boat Captain, a 15-18 year old Youth Competitor and a 11-14 year old Youth Competitor per boat for a total of fifteen boats. Each Youth Competitor would split time on the trolling motor fishing the front of the boat in his or her selected area of the lake. The Boat Captains remained impartial and were the only judges on hand while fishing. Each Youth Competitor had four hours to figure out the fish and catch and land them. It was a stepping stone for the kids in how a professional tournament is run and how to fish it. They could work together as team and share information with their team to win the first ever 2008 New Jersey Invitational Cup. The winning team would have the choice of defending that cup next year or keeping the cup. John Radamski, the president of the Federation Nation of NJ gave them this option.
The Youth Competitors and Youth Directors and Boat Captains and their guests from each State met for the Tournament Dinner Meeting Friday night June 27th, 2008 to hear Richard Favire, Vice President of the Federation Nation of NJ give the run down on the weekend schedule of events and the rules of the tournament. Mike Iaconelli sent a video over wishing the kids luck and giving them fishing tips on how to catch them at Lake Hopatcong. The Youth Competitors were greeted by hand outs of tackle and lures from some area sponsors including MegaStrike, Evolution Jigs, Pro-USA Custom Baits, Xtreme Reel Lube, Lunker City Baits, American Bass Anglers, Ramsey Outdoors, and Jimmy Kline Leather Crafts.
After the handouts and the formalities were over, the Youth Competitors had a meeting and seminar with one of Lake Hopatcong’s leading tournament fishermen Skip Lerman. Skip instructed the Youth Competitors to stay focused, fish hard, and just have fun out on the lake. He gave a great speech and the Federation Nation of NJ wants to thank him for the great job he did at the meeting and also as a Boat Captain for the tournament.
The launching of the boats was done out of Lee’s County Park Marina at 7:00am immediately after the National Anthem. The Youth Competitors were due back in for the Weigh-In at 3:00pm sharp. Mike Kaminskas, Conservation Director and Lou Nicousia, Tournament Weigh-In Official weighed in each Youth Competitor and greeted them with a smile as they tallied the Youths weights from the day. Bruce Normand, Secretary handed out weigh-in slips to the Youth Competitors and congratulated them on a job well done. Mike Kaminskas commented after the Weigh-In that all fish brought to the scales were released alive back into Lake Hopatcong. The awards were not handed out at the weigh-in, but instead reserved for the Awards BBQ Dinner back at the hotel.
John Radamski, President of the Federation Nation of NJ opened the Awards Dinner with a special guest, Senator Steven Oroho who welcomed everyone to New Jersey and addressed the Youth Competitors and talked about Lake Hopatcong and the current issues with weed control and boat fees. Senator Oroho then told them to stay focused and prepared and they would be able to accomplish what ever they wanted to in life. The Federation Nation of NJ wants to thank the Senator for addressing the guests from other states.
The President then moved the meeting back inside after the BBQ provided by Ralph’s BBQ to start the awards ceremony. The President awarded each Boat Captain with a plaque in honor of them volunteering their time.
Those awards went to the following Boat Captains:
New Jersey Youth Director, Diane Johnson and Assistant Youth Director, Antonio “GO-GO” Gomez awarded the Youth Competitors along with Mike Kaminskas, Conservation Director and Lou Nicosia, Tournament Director and Richard Favire, Vice President as John Radamski, President read the awards. The following is a break down on the awards presented to the Youth Competitors:
Youth Competitors 11-14 Years of Age
Youth Competitors 15-18 Years of Age
It was shortly after that John Radamski President of the Federation Nation of NJ announced Pennsylvania as the winning State for this year New Jersey Youth Invitational Cup. Youth Director of Pennsylvania, Ken Saville and the Pennsylvania Youth Competitors- 11-14 years of age Alex Engleman, Cody Rathmell, and Conner Zemany, and 15-18 years of age Youth Competitors Brett Glodfelter, Matt Grasinger, and Austen Oberdorf accepted the Cup with outbursts of joy. The following is a list of how the States finished and the weight caught:
States Finishing Order
Total Fish Weighed: 113
The Federation Nation of NJ would like to thank all the volunteers over the weekend for their hard work and tireless efforts which included Shelly Kaminskas, Trish Nicosia, Christine Favire, Amanda McCaskill, Missy Arredondo, Ken Bertles, John Appaluccio, Frankie Appaluccio, Nick Diamandas, and Dominic LaBruto.
The Federation Nation of NJ would also like to thank the following for the food provided by these companies: Main Lake Market of Prospect Point, Lake Hopatcong, Newton-Sparta Country Deli in Andover, and the Village Saloon in Sparta. Richard Favire, Vice President would like to personally thank Mike and Cindy Scrivani for their assistance in finding and obtaining these food vendors and the Roxbury Rotary Club for their donation to obtain a pontoon boat for the parents of the Youth Competitors to see their kids fishing on the lake.
The Federation Nation of NJ would also like to thank Russ and Lori Avarella for the pictures and video shot throughout the weekend and the Morris County Park Systems for the use of Lee’s County Park Marina for the Weigh-In event.
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