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Bass fishing club takes steps towards team status

With nothing official on the books from last year’s competition, three-year recognition process must start in 2014

  • Tyler LeBlanc, a member of ConVal High School's bass fishing team, shows School Board members some of the equipment used by the team.
  • Tyler LeBlanc, a member of ConVal High School's bass fishing team, shows School Board members some of the equipment used by the team.

PETERBOROUGH — Last October, ConVal’s bass fishing team concluded its first season on the water by finishing fifth overall and first in the smallmouth bass category at the NHIAA championship on Lake Winnisquam. Now the team, which competed as a club last year, wants to start the process toward becoming an official team sport at ConVal.

“What we need is recognition that we are a team so we can do fundraising,” Michelle LeBlanc of Greenfield told the ConVal School Board on Tuesday. LeBlanc, whose nephew Tyler is a member of the team, said if the group can raise money, they may be able to provide modest reimbursement for gasoline and travel expenses that would help them recruit additional volunteers who might be able to provide bass fishing boats.

“We feel we can continue to move forward without funding from the school district,” LeBlanc said.

Last year, Phil Mathewson of Hancock coached the team and volunteered the use of his fishing boat. The team practiced on Dublin Lake and Powder Mill Pond and made it into the state tourney by finishing ninth in a qualifier of Lake Winnipesaukee. Mathewson told the board that he plans to continue as coach and to use his boat with the team. He said it’s typical for local fishermen to volunteer to help with bass fishing teams.

“It’s all about getting kids out on the water,” he said. “I’ll continue to do this at no cost.”

Mathewson said because the team has only one boat available, it can only have four members. Five students tried out for the team last year, and Mathewson and LeBlanc said if they can raise money, they may be able to have a larger team.

Mathewson said bass fishing attracts students who aren’t likely to participate in other team sports. He said the overall cost for equipment for a team member — fishing poles, lures, life jackets, rain gear, etc. — could amount to about $500, but most of the students who are interested already have much of the gear they’ll need.

School Board members voted to make the bass fishing team an official club sport at ConVal and to start the three-year process under which a club sport eventually becomes a school-funded sports program. Board member Myron Steere of Greenfield said the team had competed last year, but there was no record of it ever being approved as a team sport by the School Board, so the three-year cycle should start with the upcoming season.

ConVal Principal Brian Pickering said he’d be disappointed if the group wasn’t recognized for last year’s season. Pickering said he was at fault for not seeing that the program was discussed and approved by the board last year, but it came up on short notice during a period of transition in the high school’s athletic department.

Board members agreed that if minutes or other records show that the board did approve bass fishing as a club last year, the board could, at a future meeting, modify its approval to give credit for last year.

On Wednesday, Pickering said the three-year period for a new sport to operate on a club basis is an opportunity to determine how much student and parent interest there is and whether the program will be sustainable. After three years, the School Board will review a program and make a decision on whether it should be included in the school’s athletic budget. The most recent example, Pickering said, is girls ice hockey, which had 25 skaters last winter in its third year as a club sport. The 2014-2015 budget included about $15,000 for equipment, coaches’ stipends, ice time and transportation for the girls hockey program.

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