Rogers: Minooka High School Anglers Club reeling in the success

April 10 was a big day for Minooka Community High School. A group of students were honored for being involved in the community and promoting the sport in which they love.

No, it wasn’t baseball, it wasn’t track — in fact, it wasn’t any of the traditional sports you see at the high school level. The team being honored was the Minooka High School Anglers Club.

This group of around 60 fishing enthusiasts had so impressed the hosts of The Fishing and Outdoors Radio Show, Don Dziedzina and Jim DaRosa, that they selected them as one of two teams to win the Plano/Frabil’s Illinois High Schools Fish Here “Team of the Year” award.

“The Minooka Anglers team is more than one that goes fishing on occasion. They help with river cleanups, they’ve helped families clean up. Their homes following the floods from last spring. The Minooka Anglers team is learning, participating and giving back to the community, as well. This is why they are deserving of being the Plano and Frabil’s Illinois High Schools Fish Here Team of the Year,” Dziedzina said.

There are two awards given each year. One is for schools north of I-80 and the other is for schools south of I-80. As a part of the award, sponsors of the radio show help provide the teams with fishing tackle and gear valued at around $5,000.

Illinois was the first state in the nation to adopt bass fishing as an official school activity. It has been on the books since 2009, and there are more than 230 IHSA schools that participate, with numbers growing each year.

Dziedzina said that there is a wide range of how schools operate their clubs.

“Some schools have competitive teams and are no different than football or basketball,” he said. “They have tryouts, cuts and a varsity team that competes. Many other schools, and we’re glad to see that, have their competitive team and a club with 20, 40 or 60 or more kids involved and they are involved.”

He also said the Minooka team, along with other high school teams, knows no boundaries. Anyone can participate.

“Members can be boys, girls, any grade and have physical disabilities,” he said. “On the water, and at the school, fishing team members are all equal.”

Most teams throughout the state have coaches, or mentors, who help the students learn about the sport, how to figure out where fish might be and why they are there. These mentors to coaches also line up different guests to come in and talk to the students about fishing. The coaches of the Minooka team have been quite successful and also deserve a thank you for all the hard work they put in. The head coach is Stan Tischer and the assistant coach is David Barney.

High School fishing teams require lots of help from the adults in the community. When they do hit the water, there is an adult required to be in the boat with them. In fact, most boats that these clubs use are owned by the very adults who are watching over the students. The high schoolers also are required to wear life vests, hats and sunglasses. In case you’re wondering, the glasses are not only helpful to cut glare on the water, but they also offer eye protection when casting lures with hooks.

Fishing has sure changed a lot over the past few years. This has not gone unnoticed by Dziedina,

“I have no doubt that high school fishing is going to grow more and more year after year,” he said. “I also see the possibility of moving high school bass fishing from that approved activity status to one of the high school sport.”

That would be exciting for sure and a great step forward in the promotion of fishing. We all know that our outdoor sports can only continue if new anglers are introduced, get hooked and pass it on to their children. Bass fishing at the high school level has really taken off and much thanks goes to all those adults who have given their time and talents to help our students throughout the state.

A big congratulations that the Minooka Anglers Club and may you have a successful 2014 season.