Reflections – Team of the Year award

Reflections – Team of the Year award

Jun 28, 2012

Outdoor Radio award showcases H.S. clubs’ contribution to fishing

By Mike Pehanich

It’s not just catching fish that makes these Illinois high school fishing clubs winners.

As the high school angling tournament season wound down last month, The Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show ( ) and Frabill ( singled out the Victor J. Andrew High School of Tinley Park for its Illinois high school “Team of the Year” award and presented a runner-up award to Oak Lawn Community High School.

“These teams have great programs to coach these young people in the art of fishing,” said Jim DaRosa, founder of the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show in 1983. “But what makes them truly special is how they have reached out and shared what they have learned and their passion for fishing with their communities.”

The Victor J. Andrew High School of Tinley Park received the first "Team of the Year" award as the Illinois high school fishing club/team that demonstrated outstanding achievement in drawing more young people to fishing.

Frabill, the Jackson, Wisconsin-based fishing tackle  and outdoor apparel maker, led the sponsorship effort, which presented the Andrew H.S. team with $6,000 in tackle and gear. Other sponsors included the Bolingbrook Bass Pro Shop, TTI-Blakemore, Plano, Pure Fishing, War Eagle, Bass Minder, Strike King, Rayjus Outdoors and Evon’s Trophies (Tinley Park).

The Oak Lawn Community High School team, coached by Chris Kuchyt, received over $1,000 in tackle and gear for its 2nd place award.

Now that’s a team!

DaRosa underscored the “Team of the Year” award’s significance and its distinctively different intent from the groundbreaking Illinois High School Association (IHSA) tournament program in Illinois.

“IHSA has its own award for the best competitive team,“ said DaRosa, who sent out survey forms to 232 schools to locate this year’s outstanding clubs. “Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show, Frabill and the other companies supporting the ‘Team of the Year’ award are recognizing the school that represents the sport and pastime of fishing by reaching out to attract new people to fishing. That’s something that fishing so badly needs.”

The Andrew H.S. team employs classrooms and computer labs to teach fishing concepts and to research waters. A lot of the instruction on lures, tackle and techniques takes place in the school’s swimming pool, too.

But what impressed DaRosa most was the fishing tournament the team hosted to get more kids involved in fishing.

Title sponsor, Frabill, along with Bolingbrook Bass Pro Shop, TTI-Blakemore, Plano, Pure Fishing, War Eagle, Bass Minder, Strike King, Rayjus Outdoors and Evon's Trophies donated more than $7,000 in tackle awards to the winning teams.

“Our club hosts a three-tournament series known as the D230 Bass Classic Series, which involves 12 to 15 schools, 20 to 30 boats, and over 100 kids,” said Andrew H.S. coach John Bartgen in an interview with the radio show’s co-host Don Dziedzina. The fishing club has had 50 to 60 members since its inception in 2008. It coordinated its tournament effort with sister school Carl Sandburg H.S. in Orland Park.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller credited coaches, sponsors and volunteers, including Andrew H.S. assistants Jimmy Flynn and Dave Arndt, for their dedication and generous contributions to their clubs and teams, noting that Illinois’ high school fishing programs can only succeed with such grassroots support.

DaRosa emphasized that the high school fishing clubs and teams offer a life-long gift to students. “They can’t all be stars on their athletic teams,” said DaRosa. “But when you instill that passion for fishing and teach these young people how to be successful, it grabs you. It’s something you not only want to do yourself, but you want to share it with others, too!”



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