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'Part of a team for once' | Competitive fishing growing in Michigan schools

West Michigan has dozens of schools competing in fishing. Hudsonville is amongst the latest schools to get on board.

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. — During the day, Trevor Goodman's classroom is a place where high schoolers learn about math. But once the final bell rings for the day, the room transforms into a place to talk strategy.

Inside the classroom Monday night, the Hudsonville High School bass fishing team studied a map of Gun Lake. They talked about depth and water temperature, and how those things affect where the fish might go. They talked about lures, and which ones might be most effective in attracting bass. It's all a part of their preparation for their first tournament of the year this Saturday.

Although fishing is not yet a sport sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the MHSAA does keep track of how many high school teams have been formed. They tell 13 ON YOUR SIDE there are around 30 boys teams and 10 girls teams across the state. West Michigan has a little more than a dozen teams, and last year Hudsonville joined the fray.

"Things seemed to kind of take off in a hurry. There was a lot of interest, which to me was very exciting. It allows us to get kids involved in Hudsonville athletics per se, in a different way than the traditional sports," said Goodman, who serves as the team's coach.

For Hudsonville, the 2023 season started in January. As soon as winter break ended, the Eagles began having bi-weekly meetings learning about all things bass fishing. After this weekend's tournament at Gun Lake, the team will also compete at a tournament in the Grand River, and another on Muskegon Lake.

Seniors Andrew TerHaar and Lucas Gryzen say the season will be a nice way to end their high school careers. They're happy this team gave them a way to get involved and represent their school with pride.

"It was very cool to like be part of a team for once. I never really did sports in high school, so being a part of a Hudsonville something that was just awesome. Getting into tournaments and learning and growing a bunch of new friends on the club as well was awesome," Gryzen said.

Credit: 13 ON YOUR SIDE/Matt Gard
The Hudsonville fishing team studies a map of Gun Lake, and talks strategy.

TerHaar says he's been involved with fishing his entire life and it's nice to be able to put his skills to good use for his school.

"I grew up fishing ever since I was a baby diapers, just going out with my dad or grandpa. It's been really nice to have something at the school to really join into and see other kids get involved in it," he said.

Goodman says creating those opportunities is what it's all about.

"It's kind of awesome for me to be able to bring that to them. I think part of being a teacher is being invested in kids outside of the classroom. So for me to bring something that a lot of kids have interest in and allow them an avenue to start fishing competitively, I think is amazing," he said.

Hudsonville has secured sponsors to help them get this far but they still need help. One of the obstacles they face is limited access to boat captains. That's a volunteer position, and if you'd like to help you can email Goodman at tgoodma@hpseagles.net.


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