An article in the Northwest Herald highlights the contributions Huntley High School teacher Erik Lachel in growing the interest in and inclusivity of competitive bass fishing throughout the state.
Lachel, who took over the HHS bass fishing program in 2013 has helped the team grow from about eight participants to 48 today. That huge increase places Huntley’s team as the largest in the area, and has helped it transform into a top contender in the state, having finished 15th in the state tournament last year, and 3rd in the Unified Division.
The effort the create the Unified Division was spearheaded by Lachel and other IHSA bass fishing advisory committee members in conjunction with the Special Olympics to expand participation in the sport by students with special needs.
According the Lachel, the program is facing a challenge to keep up with the growth.
“Because bass fishing is considered an “activity” and not an official IHSA sport, teams must provide their own equipment, including rods and – often most difficultly – a boat,” the article reads.
That means teams relay heavily on the support of local sponsors and families. In addition, the sport’s growth statewide is creating additional challenges to organize larger events and find facilities to host them. But Lachel says he does not see the growth slowing down soon.
“If it continues to grow at this pace, we won’t have enough bodies of water to accommodate it all,” he said.