CHARLESTON — For 15-year-old Dawson Hendrix, having bass fishing as an extracurricular at Charleston High School is a dream come true.
“Every second I can get, I’m fishing,” said Hendrix.
The Charleston school board approved of the creation of the new extracurricular during its meeting Wednesday night.
“I’m very glad we got this at the high school, I think it’s an awesome opportunity for students,” said Hendrix. “I’m just happy.”
Hendrix has been a key proponent of adding bass fishing to the list of school groups since making his initial request several months ago.
“I sent Derrick (Zerusson) an email and asked, ‘Is there any chance of this?’” said Hendrix. “He said, ‘I'll look into it,’ and here we are now.”
“I’m expecting more (students) than you might think would be interested in this,” said Zerrusen, the dean of students and athletic director.
Other area schools with a bass fishing program include Oakland, Okaw Valley Teutopolis, Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond and Mount Zion.
School board president Jason Coe thanked high school principal Aaron Lock and Zerrusen for working to make it a possibility to have this as an extracurricular, recalling how the idea was shut-down whenever his son was in high school around six years ago.
“We showed how successful it can be, like when golf came to us, and how successful that program became,” said school board vice president Scott Clarke. “And how many kids are getting scholarships and going to college as a result.”
The league will be co-ed and overseen by the Illinois High School Association. The team will be run by a volunteer, school-approved sponsor.
The school is will be looking for the best possible practice locations at local lakes, so students can prepare for its first season in May.
“Not just with this situation with any situation, not only do you want to meet students’ needs academically, but I feel like there's so much more to high school, outside of what happens in the classroom,” Lock said. “Being part of any club organization or extracurricular — be it fine arts or sports or something like this — it's just better for kids and makes them more well-rounded and makes them not only better students, but better people when they graduate high school.”