For the second year, the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show presented the Plano and Frabill’s Illinois High Schools Fish Here awards to a Team of the Year and Honorable Mention Team of the Year.
The radio show hosted by Jim DaRosa (founder) and Don Dziedzina who while in a goose pit on a cold wintry day, came up with the idea to acknowledge High School fishing teams for their efforts to promote fishing not only in their schools, but also in their communities.
High school sports like football, baseball, basketball are seen and heard about through local media outlets everywhere. But rarely is seen anything about high school fishing, an IHSA approved activity that’s now in its 5th year.
This year the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show has teamed with the Plano and Frabill Companies to change this. For the past several months high school fishing has been a regular segment on the radio show.
There’s no argument that young anglers are the future of fishing and with the support of Plano, Frabill and many other sponsors, a huge collection of fishing gear and related items were awarded to the Plano and Frabill’s Illinois High Schools Fish Here winning teams.
This year 237 high school fishing teams that were ask to participate in a survey to tell all about their team. And based upon their replies, the top 10 schools were selected by DaRosa and Dziedzina. From there, radio show pro-staff members Roger Wright, Jeff “Big Dog” Novak, Robin “Boone” Rogers, and Dan Stefanich voted to select the number 1 and 2 teams who were awarded in late April.
The Team of the Year was won by Oak Lawn Community High School’s Spartan Fishing Club which is lead by Coach Chris Kuchyt.
The Spartan Fishing Club has over 30 members, from freshmen to seniors. They meet weekly to learn about fishing and practice their skills both in the classroom and on the water.
Some of the things that this team does that won the Team of the Year Award for them include bringing the Access to Fishing Rod and Reel Loaner Program to the Oak Lawn Public Library where kids and families can check out fishing poles just like they would a book. The team has worked with the Cook County Forest Preserve District Fisheries Division build fish cribs for forest preserve lake habitat. They have collected and donated rod and reel combos from community members and provided them to the Disabled Veterans Fishing Program. This just names of few of their community efforts.
But Coach Kuchyt got his kids involved in something else that no other school has ever done. The Spartan Fishing Team made a formal presentation in front of the Cook County Board of Commissioners asking they Board support and approve the budget for the Forest Preserve Fisheries Division so that everyone can enjoy fishing local lakes that are close to home.
El Paso Gridley High School’s Titan Fishing Team was awarded the Plano and Frabill’s Illinois High Schools Fish Here Honorable Mention Team of the Year. This central Illinois high school fishing club is lead by Coach Jim Bagnell and Asst. Coach Taylor Umland. El Paso Gridley High School has a total enrollment of about 350 and that shows that a school of any size could earn one of these awards.
The Titans have over 20 members and financially self supporting though fundraisers and volunteer help. The team works with the Friends of EverBloom and has made over 200 PVC artificial habitat trees. They also assisted in placing them in Evergreen and Bloomington Lakes to protect fry.
When water levels were low, they assisted in placement of native plantings near the water’s edge to again help protect the banks and offer natural habitat in the lake. They were also involved in restocking the lakes by working with the Bloomington Normal Bass Club.
Jim DaRosa, and co-host Don Dziedzina were joined by Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller to make the presentation to the winning teams.
Coached by John Bartgen, Jimmy Flynn and Dave Arndt, Andrew’s Bass Club was started in the 2008/09 school year when IHSA sanctioned bass fishing as an approved activity. The team has 50 boys and girls and students of all grades and won the 2012 Team of the Year award.
“Our goal is to teach kids the concepts of fishing inside the classroom. We utilize school classrooms for instructional time, we use our computer labs to research different topics related to fishing, as well as to do research on the bodies of water we compete on.” Coach Bartgen said. “We also utilize our schools swimming pool to teach kids how there lures worked in the water.”
The team also hosts a fishing tournament to get more kids involved. IHSA tournaments include one day of fishing in a qualifying sectional and two days of fishing for the championship. The D230 tournaments give the kids even more initiative to work on their fishing skills.
Oak Lawn’s Spartan Fishing Team received approximately $5000.00 in gear and tackle. El Paso Gridley’s Titan Fishing Team received approximately $1500.00 is gear. Prizes have been donated by Plano, Frabill, Abu-Garcia, Bass Pro Shops, Strike King, Bass Minder Pflueger, Daiichi, Real Magic, Havoc, Trilene, Stand Out Hooks, Shakespeare, Road Runner, Berkley, Rayjus Outdoors and Evon’s Trophies.
DaRosa said it well about high school fishing.
“Fishing is something that a boy or girl can learn to do and continue to enjoy for the rest of their lives. We all can’t be the star quarterback or pitcher on the team. But when someone learns how to fish and that passion grabs hold of you, it becomes something that you not only want to do and enjoy yourself, but also share it with others.”
About the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show: The Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show is a very popular long running outdoor radio show that has been on the air since 1983, making it one of the longest running outdoor radio shows in the nation. The show is heard simulcast on six stations throughout the Chicagoland fringe (suburban) market. The show airs on WCSJ AM 1550, WCSJ FM 103.1, WSPY FM 107.1, WSPY AM 1480, WSQR FM 93.5 and WSQR AM 1180 live every Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. All shows are archived and can be heard on the LISTEN NOW page of www.FishingAndOutdoorRadio.com.
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