Dayton, Tenn. – Among Bryan College's 10 sports, there is one team that has battled its way straight to the top in just the first two seasons in existence. Competitive bass fishing is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, especially on the collegiate level, and Bryan has quickly become highly respected on the water.
Head Bryan College Lions Fishing Coach, Mike Keen, collected a group of skilled anglers from across the southeast, eager to take fishing to the next level and contend against some of the largest colleges and universities in the country. The Lions found success early when their inaugural season ended in impressive fashion as the team casted their way to an 18th place finish in the running for Cabela's School of the Year. Setting a seemingly impossible bar for themselves heading into their second campaign, the Lions managed to outperform last year's accomplishments and reach their goal of cracking the top-10 in the School of the Year contest with an impressive 6th place finish in 2016.
New recruits that include Jake Lee and Bryson Elliot of Knox-Karns, Michael Tipton and Jacob Fouts of Walker Valley, Matt Brown of Corbin High School (Ky.), Connor Cohran of Dalton High School (Ga.), and Hunter Thrasher of Lincoln County High School (Ga.) will help build onto the already talented Lions team who have steadily grown in confidence in the program's beginning years.
Keen explained, "We are no longer the new kids on the block, but we belong. In our first year, we were solely proud to be there, but now we are proud and expecting to do well. It will carry over into the next year, and it certainly helps to be bringing in talented anglers."
A problem Keen faced early on in the life of the fishing program was where to store the expensive boats the students were bringing to school. Fortunately, the Lions were able to house them at the old Ace Hardware facility on the north end of town, which worked for Keen and the team short-term, but the financial cost each year and the issue of the location being off-campus remained.
Administration from Bryan came up with a solution to the headache and presented the idea of a one-time investment that would save money by building its own boat garages on campus. The idea took no time to come to fruition as a company was contacted that specialized in metal garages, which served as a perfect fit for the boats.
In the end of June, the process was started of clearing out land behind Bryan College's baseball field, Senter Field, where six 24x32 buildings now presently stand. Each building houses two boats and includes ramps for easy access.
Keen and the team are extremely proud of the new fishing facilities that they can call their own. "The entire build has been remarkably fast, and I couldn't be more thankful that the hard work and dedication we have been putting forth is being noticed in such a way that something like this is possible," said Keen. "Not only is it really nice to have our own buildings here on campus, but it will enhance recruiting in the future, so that people can see the support the school is giving us."
Pictured above: Head Bryan College Fishing Coach, Mike Keen, speaking to the Dayton Rotary Club about the notable 2015-16 finish and the progress of the new boat garages.
Pictured below are different stages of the build.