MCKENZIE, Tenn., (07.01.09) - Bethel has been chosen Garry Mason to direct the school's inaugural bass team. Mason has been a fishing and hunting guide in the Kentucky Lake area for the past 25 years. A native of Buchanan, Tenn., Mason has been featured in several news media outlets and is the founder of The Legends of the Outdoors.

"I am very excited about the new Bass Fishing program at Bethel," said Mason. "This will give many young students the opportunity to compete in the great sport of bass fishing as a team on the college level. The future of the outdoors industry depends on young men and women learning the ins and outs of fishing sports. My goal is to use his program to teach several techniques of bass fishing as well as the uses of all types of lures, rods, reels and boats. I think Bethel stands at the leading edge of the collegiate fishing world with this program and is one of the first colleges to have a true bass fishing team as part of its athletic department. My hat is off to those with the great vision in making this program possible. I believe the benefits of this bass fishing team will be felt at Bethel for years to come."

Mason views his role as the bass team coach as that of a teacher and promotional director. He added that sponsorship is a huge part of the fishing industry and developing those relations will also be a role he will be developing.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) is considering adding bass fishing as one of its sanctioned sports in the future. Mason points out that bass fishing is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports.

Mason sees Bethel competing in several different collegiate bass organizations and pointed out that Kentucky Lake will be hosting a collegiate bass tournament in 2010 and plans for Bethel to be in the mix. The team will compete in the Spring semester and into the summer even though the students may not be in class. Most collegiate bass tournaments allow a senior to compete up to 90 days after he/she graduates.

Mason is currently in the process of talking to high school athletic coaches and guidance counselors from all over the region to find members for the team. He sees the opportunity to receive scholarship opportunities for bass fishing as an enticing reward for those to participate in something they enjoy while getting an education at the same time.

Currently, students will have to provide their own boats, but Mason said that the school will be working to seek out boat sponsors for the future. Mason also stated that there will be some assistance in helping team members get equipment either through sponsorship programs or with purchase discounts. He added that several companies have already shown a big interest in helping Bethel's new program.

"I look forward to bringing collegiate bass fishing to Bethel and being a part of the great tradition of Bethel's Athletic Department," said Mason.

Anyone interested in joining the Bethel Bass Fishing Team should contact Garry Mason at his office: 731-593-0171, cell: 731-693-7770 or via email:[email protected]