In the discussion of our athletic department and their recently published strategic plan, what sometimes gets overlooked are the club sports that venture outside of the normal “Varsity Teams”. In fact, our club sports often become the butt of every sports-joke (see “We’re a Lumberjack School“). While this teasing isn’t meant to “put down” any of our club athletics, it does highlight that NC State has a lot going on for it that goes outside of the region controlled by Debbie Yow. Come to think of it, the simple fact that the athletic department doesn’t screw-around with many of these club sports is probably a big reason why Fowler wasn’t able to single-handedly dismantle them.
NC State bass fishing has become one of the many successful club sports that NC State specializes in. Easily considered one of the (if not the single) best in the country, The “BassPack” won their third national championship last May. What’s even more impressive is that the club has only been around since 2005 and maintains no official ties to the athletic department (their constitution doesn’t even mention the formal athletic department). The fact that the club exists without the athletic department isn’t all that amazing. What is amazing is the success they have had in both their athletic success and in their ability to land big-name sponsors.
If all that wasn’t enough for you, the BassPack even attracts fishermen from outside of NC State and encourages them to join the Pack student body.
Dziwulski was a basketball guard who had a scholarship offer from UMBC (Maryland-Baltimore County) and was a receiver/strong safety/return man on the football team. But he was also fishing in junior Bassmasters tournaments and won a couple of state championships, attracting the attention of then-BassPack faculty advisor Jonathan Phillips.
“He called me and said, ‘Why don’t you check out N.C. State? We have a really good fishing team,’ and so I looked into it and liked it,” Dziwulski said. “North Carolina is warmer than Maryland, there are lakes close by, and they had won the 2006 national championship. This was the only school I applied to.”
If the bass fishing team can recruit, I’d love to hear what some of our varsity coaches’ excuses are. In total, the BassPack have 43 members listed on their roster.
Winning the national championship in bass fishing for 2006, 2010, and 2012 shows a sustained level of excellence that we should be seeing not only in club sports, but all across NC State’s athletic community and within the athletic department. What the BassPack have managed to do without the aid of a Lee Fowler is build a culture of excellence from the ground-up. It may “just be bass fishing” and not make it to ESPN 3 (which might be a blessing in disguise), but they are doing something our varsity sports aren’t: dominating their field. And to think… all of this without state-of-the-art training facilities, scholarships, and special academic programs…
Congrats 2012 National Champions, the BassPack!