|Decatur, AL – Camden, Benton County, TN was the host and setting for the 4th annual “Make Me A Star” Championship sponsored by Fishing University. With teams from all across the US and Canada competing for college scholarships, the team from Anderson County, Tennessee walked away with the 2019 title. Tanner Scruggs and Storm Cline, both students at Anderson County high school, earned their way to the final Championship fish-off by making 1,532 social media posts about their fishing and all the great sponsors of Fishing University.|
The winners of the 2-day fish-off won a 4-year tuition scholarship to Bethel University and a place on the Bethel Wildcat Fishing Team that is always one of the top teams in the nation, as well as the $10,000 Nick HuntleyMemorial Scholarship. The 2nd place team won a 2-year tuition scholarship to Bethel University located in McKenzie, TN as well!
“I truly entered the MMAS competition because I really want to attend Bethel University & fish with the team and their coach, Garry Mason– but I also want to get an undergraduate degree in Biology and then go on to become an anesthesiologist”, said Cline. “In looking back, I wish I had not been as nervous on camera while we were filming and could have treated it like another day of fishing while we were making the show. My dad and I fish quite often and my Pop Pop fishes quite a bit. When we go on vacation, we always go deep sea fishing and it really is a great time. Fishing has given me many opportunities to go places that I may not have ever had the chance to go. I have formed a very strong relationship with my mom and dad through these trips and time on the water. I have made many new life-long friends through the sport. I have also had the opportunity to meet some very influential people in the fishing industry—all people I respect and admire” continued Cline.
“I want to thank the good Lord because all of this is possible with Him. I especially want to thank my Dad and Mom for always getting me where I need to go and for being my number one support group. I want to also thank Jonathan Collins for always providing me with great supplies, as well as my fishing partner, Tanner, and his dad, Jerry Scruggs. And, last, but not least, my grandparents for always supporting me in everything I do”, concluded Cline.
“For me, fishing has impacted my life to the point where it literally revolves around it”, commented Scruggs. “My family has always fished, just not competitively. My papaw, dad, brother and I would take trips to the creek or local lakes to catch fish to eat. My career goal is to fish well enough to make it to the Bassmaster Elite Trail, and while doing that to become a certified marine engine mechanic. Fishing has influenced the person I have become because at first you would think I was very shy; however, I never really meet a stranger. And, I have learned to keep calm in every kind of stressful situation because in fishing if you make a mistake, you can’t get spun out—you just have to brush it off and keep going… which I think can be applied to everything in life”, he said.
“I want to thank all my friends, family, God, my fishing coach, Will VanEtten and Bethel University for making these scholarships possible. And, I would just really like to give a big thanks to everyone involved in the “Make Me A Star” program— Debra, Charlie, Ray, Jimmy & Rick. If everyone was like them, the world might be a lot better off!”, concluded Scruggs.The second-place team of Hayden Whitsell and Zach Perry also earned a 2-year tuition scholarship to Bethel University. They made it to the final Championship because they made a record-breaking number of posts- 4,524- about their fishing adventures and the Fishing University sponsors. The duo from Central Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, KY, fought a great battle trying to reel more in than their competitors, falling short by only a couple of fish.“This was my second time to make it into the final top two teams”, said Perry. “Last year was such a great experience that I wanted to do it all again. Being on our high school bass fishing team has made my life extremely busy since I spend most weekends traveling to different lakes, however, it’s opened up so many new and exciting opportunities for my family and I. You know the “Make Me A Star” competition is a great chance for young high school anglers to not only fish with icons of the sport—Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier—but to be a part of filming a TV show. It’s a whole different ballgame than fishing in a tournament”, said Perry.
“After I graduate high school, I want to either attend Bethel University or become a career firefighter”, commented Perry. “For me being a Christian and living my life as one, comes first—because of that, I’m a strong leader and a hard worker. I want to thank my family for pushing me to be the best young angler and young man I am today”, concluded Perry.
“I grew up fishing with my pawpaw”, said Whitsell, “we would go to lake Barkley in Kentucky during the summer months and catch tons of catfish! Through fishing I have discovered a new lifestyle and it has given me awesome opportunities like meeting new people, fishing great new fishing locations and the opportunity to appear on Fishing University. I actually entered the competition because my fishing partner, Zach, did it last year and told me all these awesome stories of all the people he met and how much fun he had. So, we set out goal of doing as many posts every single day as we could— I believe we set an all-time record!! However, even though we were spending lots of time making posts, my grades in school have always been my number one propriety. I try extremely hard to be successful in the classroom just like I do on the boat fishing”, he said.
“I describe myself as caring, kind, humble and empathetic— I believe the way you treat others around you speaks volumes about who you are. I want to thank my papaw, my mom and dad and my fishing coach, that have helped me to be the person I am today”, concluded Whitsell.
“As anyone who reads this can understand, we had a wonderful turnout with our “Make Me A Star” high school team challenge this year”, said Debra Talley, Vice President, Fishing University. “With 1,002 teams from across the US and Canada posting 242,285 social media pictures and stories, everyone who fishes should know—these high school anglers mean business!”, said Talley. “We are blessed with outstanding sponsors that gave generously to these top two teams to insure they are well equipped for all their fishing adventures. We especially want to thank Garry Mason, Fishing coach at Bethel University, for his generous offer of the 4 scholarships for the top two teams. We also want to thank Bill Huntley, founder of T-H Marine for the Nick Huntley Memorial Scholarship that they have been giving these past 4 years. And, we want to thank the Benton County Tennessee River Resort District and Mayor Brett Lashlee for hosting the competition this year as well as Sportsman’s Rest Lodge. The contributions that all of our sponsors make to these young anglers will pay off in decades to come. We sincerely appreciate each and every one of them”, concluded Talley. About Fishing UniversityAs one of the longest running Outdoor TV shows, Fishing University is celebrating 33 years of bringing quality fishing programming to avid viewers. Each week they hit the water accompanied by friends and professionals in the industry, as viewers are engaged in a competitive show that is packed full of ‘how to tips’. Not only is the show exciting, but it also lets people in on ‘tricks of the trade’ from some of the very best in the outdoor industry. Fishing University can be seen on the Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network and The Sportsman Channel in all 50 states and 51 other countries. To see the entire schedule, go to www.fishingu.com, and be sure to visit Fishing University on Facebook.
Sponsors of Fishing University IncludeCharger Boats, Honda Marine, Jackson Kayak, Spro, T-H Marine, Power Pole, Orion Coolers, Cashion Rods, Strike King Lures, Cedar Creek Beef Jerky, Soft Science Footwear, Lithium Pros Batteries, Gamakatsu, EZ Loader Trailers, Gruv Fishing, BALSAX Line, Nite Track, Side Kick Lure Retriever, and Ever Quote.
Debra TalleyVice President256email@example.com