provided by John Phillips
One of Mossy Oak’s basic tenets is to help young people learn about and grow in their outdoor endeavors. Along with Bassmaster, Mossy Oak has sponsored bass fishing tournaments for the Junior Series (young people that includes students from 2nd to 8th grade), the High School Series and the College Series. These tournaments give students educational opportunities to learn to bass fish, be coached in bass fishing and know how to compete and work with pros and fishing tackle companies to later gain entry into the fishing industry. Just as in team sports, these dedicated young anglers now have a direct pathway to reach their dreams through these established channels. Mossy Oak is helping these young people live their best lives outdoors by sponsoring tournaments and awarding trophies, money and scholarships to the winning fishing teams.
Ethan Jones and his bass-fishing partner Andrew Althoff attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and he and Andrew just won one of four legs of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, also sponsored by Mossy Oak. But the story of how Ethan got his college fishing scholarship is noteworthy and should be an inspiration for any high-school student who wants to become a professional bass fisherman by fishing in college.
Ethan Jones actually fished his entire high-school career by himself as the only person on his high school’s bass fishing team.
“My school (Father McGivney Catholic High School) was so small when I started there, and no boys or girls were interested in bass fishing but me,” said Jones. “When the school opened, it only had a freshman high school class with plans to add a grade every year. Because I wanted to fish and be a part of a fishing team, the Illinois B.A.S.S. Nation High School Series decided to allow me to fish by myself, since my school was so small with only 30 students in my class. We graduated with just 25 people and 176 students in the entire high school. Luckily, my principal and athletic director both had worked with the Mossy Oak High School Series presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors at other schools. They did the paperwork to get our school certified as a high school bass fishing team. I fished all of the school tournaments available, but I also fished a lot of open tournaments in the area where I lived.
I was lucky enough to have a friend (Dalton Wesley), who was 4 years older than me. We had fished together and hung out a lot. When Dalton went to another school, he started a fishing team there. Because there were about 3,000 students at his school, he began the team with about eight members. All the other teams that I competed against had at least two anglers fishing each high school tournament. I always wanted to fish professionally, and I knew that the pros always fished by themselves. So, I wasn’t really bothered that there were twice as many fishermen competing against me. I decided that if the pros fished by themselves, then the sooner I could learn to fish by myself and rely on myself, the better my odds would be to one day become a professional angler. Because I was a one-man team, I was determined to fish harder and longer and work at bass fishing more than the two anglers in the other boats against whom I competed.”