Make the Time

How are you able to accomplish everything you do?

A common question I have often asked successful individuals, and then again, a question I often get asked as well.

H-SC Bass

It sounds like an easy question in theory, but in reality it’s a little more complicated than you would expect. The older we get, the harder it is to accomplish our goals, and the truth is it only gets harder. Every situation is different: day job, amount of time on the water, relationship structure and children are but a few of the blessings we must learn to work around. I will say, the one thing a person has to have is passion.

My grandparents, Emmett and Barbara Smith

As I have detailed many times in my blogs, I wasn’t even formally introduced to tournament angling until I was a college student at Hampden-Sydney. It seems like so long ago that I began this endeavor (2009), and then again, I can still recall every second of college fishing and the small college atmosphere. I have been a competitor my whole life. I played soccer throughout grade school, ran track and place kicked three years on Varsity before accepting a position on H-SC’s D3 College team. Due to numerous injuries in High School that lingered into my college ambitions, however, I had to make the tough decision to not return my sophomore season. It was here that I discovered tournament bass fishing.

College offers students the opportunity to learn and excel at time management. For the college athlete, this is even more critical. Looking back, I now see college more as a 4 year commitment than anything else, a mental exam that shows whether or not an individual is able to commit and accomplish their goals. I can recall the football days of not getting to the library until after 8pm after a long practice, and only having a few hours for studies, all the while leaving time for ample sleep before repeating the same process over again. When no longer competing in football, the same held true as a competitive bass angler. Hours of online research, map study and honing skills on the campus ponds left little time for twiddling fingers. Add fraternity house life and tournament leave to the mix and it could have easily spelled disaster without integrating strategic planning into the mix.

In three years competing on the college circuit, highlighted by two Regional Championship qualifications, the inaugural National Championship and a win on Smith Mountain Lake, you could easily say that I was in overdrive. Nonetheless, I stayed true to my studies and was able to graduate with a degree in Biology and minor in Religion, accomplishments from one of the most prestigious programs in the country. To this day, I would trade nothing for the experiences Hampden-Sydney College gave to me.

FLW College Series Win on SML ’11

Today, I am putting those principals to practice in ways I never thought possible. Not only am I still competing in tournament while running my own social media channels and website, I also work for the American Sportfishing Association professionally. One would think that working in the industry would give me all the time and skills needed to pursue growth in my personal endeavors, and I would be naïve to say that it doesn’t have its advantages. But then again, I am more taxed than ever with home ownership, bills and all of the pleasures of being an adult.

Family Support is Everything

One thing I must say is having a support system is of upmost importance to pursuing these dreams. A loving family that supports all that I do, and a fiancé who often puts my ambitions first helps to fuel my passion. It’s not uncommon for Loren and my bird dog, Madison, to travel to events with me, help with video and photography, and that’s only scratching the surface of the sacrifices made in my name. Hours planning for events, stretching funds to make the dream work, and not to mention giving up time together in the name of fishing. May we all take the time to thank those who have humbly allowed us as anglers the financial and time investment to keep us on the water.

The life of the tournament angler isn’t always glamorous, and I realize I am just brushing the surface of the angler journey. To those interested in pursuing competitive fishing, I stress the importance of being patient. We lose so much more than we win. Till next time, become a pro at time management, it’s half that battle. Fish On!

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