Dalton High School Catamounts

May 20, 2014

Nelson keeps a tight line

Multiple high school athletes from the area sign scholarships each year for baseball, basketball, football, softball, volleyball and many other sports.

Bass fishing scholarships? There aren’t many of those.

Dalton High School’s Hunter Nelson signed a partial scholarship Monday at the school to join the Bryan College bass fishing team next school year. The school, in Dayton, Tenn., will compete in the sport for the first time next school year. It is offered at the college as a club sport since the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics does not include bass fishing in its championship offerings.

Dalton does not have a club program for bass fishing, but there are ways Nelson gained exposure.

“My dad (Bradley Nelson) and I went to a fishing tournament in Cartersville,” Nelson said. “A fishing pro (Michael Neal) was close to us during it. I messaged him on Facebook after and he gave me his number and stuff. I texted him and said I was supposed to go to West Georgia to fish there. He asked if I was getting any scholarship money. It turns out he’s the assistant coach at Bryan.”

Neal got Nelson in touch with head coach Mike Keen, who brought the family to Bryan College for a campus visit.

“Hunter was about to go to another school,” Keen said. “When they found out we offered scholarships, they wanted to look before making a decision. They liked what they saw.”

Bass fishing is not offered as a GHSA sport, but interest continues a steady rise among colleges and young anglers. A Time magazine article from a year ago stated — according to FLW Outdoors, one of the main organizations that hosts pro fishing tournaments — there are more than 600 colleges offering the sport at the club level. The article states that in 2008 there were only 90 schools with bass fishing teams.

“You’ll see more and more getting scholarships,” Keen said. “It’s growing like crazy.”

Nelson’s new team will practice in the fall at nearby Lake Chickamauga and compete in tournaments next spring. The club team will not be affiliated with any organization during the inaugural season, Keen said.

“Bryan College treats our bass fishing team like the basketball or baseball team,” Keen said. “He’ll get a great education and have fun on the water, too. We’ll have some competition amongst ourselves in practice, but when we go to tournaments, it’s all about how the team does.”

Nelson isn’t new to team competition. He played baseball and football for the Catamounts during his high school career. He pitched this spring on the diamond after missing part of the year and all of last season due to a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder. He suffered the injury his freshman year during football but didn’t have surgery until February of his junior year. An offensive lineman in football, he missed his entire senior season on the gridiron.

Despite his injuries derailing any dreams of playing college baseball or football, Nelson found a new love and new dreams in bass fishing.

“It was about a year ago in June,” he recalled of his first event. “There was a tournament up at Lake Chickamauga and my dad and I went up for it. On the way back, he told me there were clubs for fishing around Dalton and asked if I wanted to join.”

Still, he can’t deny this is an unorthodox way to earn a scholarship. That was made pretty clear at Dalton’s end-of-year sports banquet last week.

“We had the end-of-year scholarship banquet,” Nelson said, “and principal (Steve) Bartoo said it was our first ever bass fishing scholarship.”

Text Only
Dalton High School Catamounts
  • NW_DHS Swimming 6 mlh.jpg Todd leaving DHS swim after 16 years

    Throughout his 17 years with the Carpet Capital Aquatic Club and his 16 years with the Dalton High and Dalton Middle School swim programs, Charles Todd has received looks and offers from other areas.
    But with his youngest child Chase still in school and his wife playing a major role in the Whitfield County Division of Family and Children Services, Todd wasn’t looking to make a move.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7on7 championship game6.jpg Bringing in the best

    When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
    For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wil Cushman 3 mlh.jpg Cushman’s gamble is paying off

    Wil Cushman never had to worry about establishing his high school’s swimming and diving program. Dalton already had a full roster and championship history.
    His first two years at Birmingham Southern University, though, have been all about making sure the beginning wasn’t the end.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW softball state championship file 1 mlh.jpg In the lineup again

    When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
    Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.

    June 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Junior golf: Hicks able to hang for final round

    Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.

    June 18, 2014

  • Isabel Salinas 5 mlh.jpg All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age

    Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
    One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • poty seth.jpg All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year

    As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carlile signing 3 mlh.jpg Carlile gets a chance to grind

    As Dylan Carlile saw more and more of his peers receiving offers from college wrestling programs, he became nervous.
    The Dalton High School grappler had nothing to worry about, because when the time came, he had his choice.

    May 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • daltongirls.JPG Dalton girls finish second in Class 4A

    In the Class 4A girls state golf tournament last year, the Dalton High School team finished third at Nob North Golf Course. Monday, playing in the state championship at Waynesboro Country Club, the Lady Catamounts finished second by just two strokes.
    “There is just one more place left to win,” Dalton coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “They have the time ahead of them to do it.”

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • dhs bass signing1.jpg Nelson keeps a tight line

    Multiple high school athletes from the area sign scholarships each year for baseball, basketball, football, softball, volleyball and many other sports.
    Bass fishing scholarships? There aren’t many of those.

    May 20, 2014 1 Photo