Mercury surprises high-school anglers with Go Boldly visit by their heroes
Hiawassee, Ga. – Sports in America are games of heroes, and professional bass fishing is no exception. So, imagine your surprise and delight if you’re a high school tournament angler and five heroes of your sport have just walked into what you thought was a seminar on safe boating. And even more astoundingly, those five heroes are there for you!
That’s exactly what happened in September for a group of Georgia high-schoolers at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship tournament.
As part of Mercury Marine’s yearlong Go Boldly Tour, four-time Bassmaster Classic winner Kevin VanDam and fellow Elite anglers Ott DeFoe, Brent Chapman, Seth Feider and Chris Lane nonchalantly strolled into the Bassmaster expo at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Georgia, and spent the morning hanging out with 14 enthusiastic members of the Georgia High School B.A.S.S. Nation.
“These kids were told that they were coming to the expo for a lesson – maybe something they weren’t all that excited about – and here comes Kevin VanDam walking over to them to chat and hang out,” said DeFoe. “That’s a pretty amazing morning for a 15-, 16- or 17-year-old, to be able to spend that kind of time with some people you admire and look up to.”
The high-schoolers in attendance took full advantage of the time, too: conversations and Q & A ranged from favorite baits for Blue Ridge Mountains bass to potential majors in college, and all five Mercury pros shared their wisdom on the lesser-known aspects of competitive bass fishing.
“It’s humbling to be in that position, offering advice to these kids who would all love to fish for a living,” DeFoe said. “What a valuable experience for them to have that kind of one-on-one time with five people at this level in the sport.”
Go Boldly Tour aims to “surprise and delight”
The event was the latest stop on the Mercury 2018 Go Boldly Tour, which was designed to “surprise and delight Mercury fans” with memorable activities that support and enhance their love of boating (and in this case, bass fishing).
“We’ve had a lot of fun and have met some wonderful people with our 2018 Go Boldly Tour,” said Michelle Dauchy, chief marketing officer at Mercury. “Boating and fishing are special events for most people, and finding ways to make those experiences even more memorable for passionate boaters has been really rewarding. This was especially true when we had the opportunity to introduce several legends of bass fishing to a thrilled group of budding tournament anglers – seeing their faces as they talked to their heroes was just amazing.”
The Go Boldly Tour kicked off at the 2018 Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, South Carolina, where a handful of Mercury enthusiasts were taken on a “water taxi” ride aboard Capt. Arik Bergerman’s Mercury-powered 39-foot Yellowfin to Clemson Stadium, and given a VIP tour of the facility by former Clemson offensive lineman Eric Mac Lain.
It continued in May with a walleye trip on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and a series of experiences in August during the 10 days of Summerfest in Milwaukee (billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival”). It will continue through the end of the year, with at least one more memorable experience slated for some fortunate fishing and boating enthusiasts.
For the time being, 14 Georgia high-schoolers can claim that they’ve shaken hands with, received advice from, and talked about bass fishing with some icons of their sport.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was that kid, and I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to meet Kevin VanDam when I was a high-schooler,” De Foe admitted. “I know Kevin pretty well now, and I still get a little giddy when I’m around him. I know what that would’ve meant to me at that age, and I can imagine it means the same to those kids. It’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”