Bass-fishing championship next big thing for Chicago high schools?

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Illinois’ first-in-the nation, bass-fishing championship for high school students will be pared down the basics to get it successfully off the ground next spring.

That was the key point to come from the Illinois High School Association’s ad hoc advisory committee, which met this week, according to Michael Mulligan, a science teacher at Taft High School on the Northwest Side

And so did the possibility that Chicago could hold a city fishing championship of another sort in another season, say this fall. But that’s in the future. (And a wildly wonderful idea that I know fishing honchos at the Chicago Park District are interested in.)

Bass club leaders should begin to get calls soon. Mulligan, who is working on establishing Taft’s team, said, “Most of us plan on setting up friendly competitions in the fall to establish our teams. I will be contacting clubs to hopefully gain their support.”

Mulligan was kind enough to give me bullet-point highlights from the meeting. But first a couple highlights, and a reminder that the whole thing needs final approval from the IHSA Board.

IHSA assistant executive director Dave Gannaway, who will run it, expects more than 300 of the 700-plus schools in the IHSA to field (float?) teams.

Key to determining how the sectional format will work (still to be finalized) is the 40-boat limit on the state finals. They decided to make it a 40-boat field to increase the number of options of waters big enough to host the state finals. (For example, if there are four sectionals, 10 teams would advance, and so on.)

Teams will be made of three students, male and/or female. Only two will fish at a time from the boat with an adult supervisor, while the third student will be on shore and able to sub at any point.

Teams will only come from individual schools. There will not be teams from multiple schools at the district or Public League level. There will be a Taft team, not a Northwest Side team. A Simeon team, not a South Side team. Teams from Shepard, Eisenhower or Richards, not a district team 218 team.

First key date for the first year, 2009, is Friday, April 17. That’s when sectionals will be held. It’s planned for a Friday to allow a weather change to Saturday, if needed. The next weekend will also be open, in case of extended bad weather.

The two-day state finals are planned for May 1 and 2, a Friday and Saturday.

Sites for the competitions are yet to be decided.

Here are the bullet points from Mulligan’s notes.

*Ad Hoc Advisory Committee consisting of 24 participants from around the state including teachers, Athletic Directors, and Principals * Want to keep initial tournaments simple and successful and hopefully evolving into bigger/better * 2 tournaments to be held in spring of 2009 * Sectional tournaments held Friday April 17 (1 day tournament) – locations and numbers of participant TBD * State Final tournament (2 day) held May 1, 2 (2 day) – location TBD * Each school can have up to two boats registered for sectional and the qualifiers from the sectionals going to the state tournament. * State tournament will include approximately 40 boats. We wanted to keep it relatives simple and restricting the number of boats participating in the state final will open up more lake possibilities. * The majority of the time was spend creating the terms and conditions – the rules and regulations * Safety is a primary concern – speed limit of 35 mph, life vests, etc * Dave Gannaway is looking into sponsors and things look promising but it will still be up to the coaches to procure support/boats for practice, etc.

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