HUDSONVILLE, Mich -- High school fishing is full fledged sport in many states but not in Michigan. Now there is a competition in West Michigan and it provides a chance for many kids to represent their schools.
Ben Hoekwater is one of them, he is a senior at Unity Christian High School and he does not participate in any of the traditional school sports, but he loves to fish.
“I always loved the outdoors, I love spending time with my dad we always just have a good time together chatting it up, playing, seeing who can catch the biggest fish" Hoekwater said "he used to always beat me but now I can beat him so that is kind of fun we always compete a little bit so just the comradery of it.”
There are many kids like Ben that love hunting and fishing but for years did not have a way to connect that with their school. That all changed last spring at the West Michigan High School Bass Fishing Invitational at Gun Lake near Wayland. It was created thanks, in part, due to a chance meeting between Muary De Young from Sportspersons Ministries International and Jim Peterson, head of school at South Christian High School.
“To get kids, just a kid to belong to the school have some pride in the school, sorry to use the image, but it floats all boats right" Peterson said "if they feel like they belong and are a part of the school every other part of their academics and social career come up as well and I’ve seen that time and time again when we involve more kids.”
Last year they had 20 schools and 42 boats participate in the May 16th tournament. This year there will be two events, the first is April 30th at Hardy Dam near Stanwood and the second will be May 14th at Gun Lake.
“There is a lot of good anglers out there who are trying to compete this" Hoekwater added "it’s just like any other sport you are just trying to beat the next team and you are trying to be as good as you can be.