UPTON –The sound of an alarm clock at the early hour of 3 a.m. is usually met with groans of frustration, murmurs of “five more minutes,” and an excessive amount of coffee. For Corey Smith and Connor Polymeros, the sound of a 3 a.m. alarm is met with enthusiasm. The early wake-up call means a productive morning on the lake fishing for bass at tournaments throughout the state.
In 2016, Smith and Polymeros took their passion for fishing, intense focus, and dogged determination to create a bass fishing team at Blackstone Valley Tech. In its inaugural season, the team had four members who traveled to and competed at bass fishing tournaments.
Creating the club was a labor of love for the two students. As sophomores, the duo reached out to both the BVT administration and the Bass Federation to research the steps required to start a chapter at Valley Tech.
“Our love of the sport really kicked off our idea of a bass fishing team, and we worked together with the administration to start a team here,” said Smith, a junior in the Electrical program from Uxbridge. “We called the regional director of the Bass Federation who walked us through the process.”
After a successful first season, Smith and Polymeros were approached by additional students interested in joining the team.
“We knew other students were interested, so we used Twitter and the school’s daily announcements to get the word out about the club.”
Their recruitment efforts worked. This year, the 19 members of the bass fishing team will compete in three tournaments during their season, which extends from April to June. At each tournament, participants are judged by the weight of their catches, and each participant is limited to five catches. The winners can qualify for state and national competition.
The tournaments also give younger fishers the chance to learn from older fishers who often attend tournaments as boat captains and mentors. The two generations share a love of the sport and look to expand its appeal to more people.
“The older fishers like to teach us different things. They might give advice about where to fish because of the time of day or water temperature. I’ve learned a lot from them,” said Smith. “The sport is really growing here. It’s not an uncommon sport down south. It’s different up here, but more people are starting to participate.”
In a typical Valley Tech entrepreneurial approach, the students raised outside funding versus reliance upon operational budget support. They asked area businesses to sponsor their team jerseys. This year, the team received sponsorships from Suburban Masonry Corporation, D.W. Smith Plumbing, and J.R.P Electrical. The sponsorships, coupled with the students’ and school’s contributions, allowed each student to receive a personalized fishing jersey.
“Creating this club taught me some business skills because I was pitching our club to businesses, administrators and students. I learned some great job interview and sales skills,” Smith said.
The duo also credits creating, running, and participating in the club for teaching additional life skills.
“I think I learned a lot of real-world skills through the tournaments just by interacting with people I didn’t know,” said Polymeros, a junior in the Engineering Technology program from Northbridge. “I learned a lot about getting familiar with people and starting different conversations and asking for advice.”
Smith and Polymeros are enjoying the fruits of their labor this year with their well-received club, but they are also already looking towards the future.
“The club grew a lot in a single year. We started it with just four friends,” said Polymeros. “It exploded, and we know there will be people to carry it on when we graduate.”
What was once a dream, the bass fishing team created another place for BVT students to showcase and hone their skills thanks to the passion of two students and a school and local community that supported their drive.
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School serves the towns of Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, Sutton, Upton and Uxbridge. Located in the heart of the Blackstone Valley, Blackstone Valley Tech creates a positive learning community that prepares students for personal and professional success in an internationally competitive society through a fusion of vigorous vocational, technical, and academic skills. The school’s website is www.valleytech.k12.ma.us.
BVT Bass Fishing: The BVT Bass Fishing Team is preparing for its second season of fishing tournaments after successfully completing its inaugural season last year. Pictured here is junior Electrical student Corey Smith of Uxbridge, junior Engineering Technology student Connor Polymeros of Northbridge, and senior Auto Technology Student Eric Morales Gonzalez of Milford.