Andrew Helms and Jake Whitaker recently teamed to win the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship held at Chatuge Reservoir in Georgia.
Helms, a junior marketing major from Monroe, and Whitaker, a senior civil engineering major from Fairview, caught 15 fish during the three-day team event. Their total catch weight of 38 pounds and 9 ounces topped the second-place finishers by 8 ounces.
“Winning the national championship has been a dream come true. We competed against the top college anglers in the country, and we were fortunate to even qualify for this event. It has been an experience I will never forget, and I look forward to the opportunities that are ahead of us,” said Helms.
Whitaker echoed his teammate’s comments. He said winning the championship would help the UNC Charlotte Bass Fishing Club, known as the Bass Rats, as well as the entire sport club program on campus. “I’ve had a great experience at UNC Charlotte and getting to represent my school at a national level and win doing something I enjoy is something I will always treasure.”
Max Mello, assistant director for sport clubs in the Recreational Services Department, called the award “a big catch for the program.”
He said, “Our main goal is for students to grow and develop through the leadership opportunities that clubs offer, but it’s also great when they bring home awards too. This is just the kind of accomplishment that will help bring recognition to the program and lure in new members.”
According to Mello, the face of the sport club program has changed in recent years from more traditional sports like baseball, rugby and lacrosse to new clubs such as the Bass Rats.
“A few years ago, a club like Quidditch (based on the Harry Potter books) was unheard of, but now it’s sweeping the nation,” said Mello.
UNC Charlotte’s sport club program is open to all enrolled students. Unlike intramural sports, which compete on campus, sport club teams travel and play against other university club teams. The clubs are organized and run by students, giving them opportunities for leadership and personal growth as well as the pursuit of their specific sport skills.