Since University of Arkansas – Fort Smith student Justin Harris was old enough to hold a pole, he has fished.
The Elkins native always dreamed of bass fishing at the collegiate level, and when he enrolled at UAFS, he saw the opportunity to make his dream a reality.
Harris recently founded BassCatz, the name given to the 10-member team at UAFS. The squad recently competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Southern Division Conference Qualifier tournament, with one team placing 30th out of 84 teams.
Harris’s passion for fishing was nurtured at a young age, when his father and grandfather would frequently take him fishing.
“I'd spend every spring and summer fishing with my dad and grandpa, but it wasn't until I got older that tournament fishing became an interest,” Harris said. “My dad fished tournaments growing up until I was born. When I was 15, I expressed my interest to my dad about bass fishing. He helped me learn different techniques and different styles of fishing, and it sort of grew from there.”
Harris and his father fished their first tournament as a team after he graduated high school. He said his interest and love for the sport grew from there. He had heard about fishing teams at nearby schools and wanted to create something similar at UAFS.
“Everyone involved has a genuine love of the sport and I couldn't be more thankful to have the guys we have on the team,” Harris said. “Without the hard work from the members and our wonderful sponsors, there's no way we would be where we are today.”
Alma: Kalen Peters, president.
Elkins: Justin Harris, vice president.
Fort Smith: Andrew Kaelin, member; Ben Neumeier, member; Daniel Schwartz, treasurer; and Daniel Peek, media communications director.
Greenwood: Matthew Seiter, member; and Michael Seiter, member.
Poteau, Okla.: Tyler Hammers, member.
West Fork: Blake Tedford, secretary.
BassCatz also plans to compete at several upcoming tournaments, including the FLW College Series at the beginning of the spring semester and other tournaments on the college circuit.
The team is also in the process of planning a kid’s camp to take place this summer, as well as hosting a tournament themselves to help raise money for the team. The team is sponsored by Fort Smith Centennial Bank, Barling Boat Sales, Z-Launch Watercraft Launch Cord and H&H Muddy Water Tackle.
For more information about the organization, contact Danielle Jolie, advising coordinator, at 479-788-7784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.