B.A.S.S. to Award Lifetime Achievement
Trophy to Be Presented at Classic
MONTGOMERY, Ala., July 23, 2002 - B.A.S.S. has created a new award to honor those whose contributions have helped make bass fishing one of the most popular sports in the nation.
The inaugural B.A.S.S. Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented on July 27, prior to the final weigh-in at the 32nd Classic in Birmingham, Ala. The recipient was selected by a panel of B.A.S.S. officials who cited his long-time efforts to increase awareness of and participation in both bass angling and conservation. The recipient's identity will be revealed at the ceremony.
"The Outstanding Achievement Award was created to honor those who have made a significant contribution to bass fishing," said B.A.S.S. Tournament Director Trip Weldon. "In the past 35 years, the sport has grown from a loose group of fishermen testing their skills on the weekend to a recognized sport enjoyed by almost 30 million Americans.
"There have been many great moments, records and personalities along the way, and this award is one small way to recognize them."
To honor the first winner, B.A.S.S. commissioned a crystal-and-gold trophy that depicts an eagle swooping through the air with a fish in his talons. A new trophy will be commissioned each year and engraved with the honoree's name.
An Enduring Symbol
As part of this year's ceremony, a bald eagle will fly in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Arena as a symbol of the recipient's work to increase environmental awareness and a reminder of the importance of the B.A.S.S. conservation efforts.
"(Raptor expert) Joe Shelnutt also cares for the same eagle that flew in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake," said Classic Executive Producer/Event Production Christy Nicolay. "I remember having tears in my eyes watching that beautiful bald eagle fly across the Olympic Stadium. I think it will be a terrific element to add to the Classic's pre-show award ceremony."
100 Years of Conservation
The eagle's role as a steward for conservation is especially significant as we near March 14, 2003, which marks the Centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge System. With nearly 540 national wildlife refuges encompassing nearly 95 million acres, the National Wildlife Refuge System is the only system of federal lands dedicated primarily to the protection of fish and wildlife. Today, refuges protect some of our nation's most pristine and unique fish and wildlife habitats. More than 120 national wildlife refuges can be found in the southeastern United States. Alabama is home to nine national wildlife refuges, which protect more than 58,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat.
A Show to Remember
The Classic is much more than just the crowning event of the Tournament Trail. Classic Week is the annual celebration of the sport of bass fishing that attracts B.A.S.S. members and other fishing fans from across the country, who come to meet their fishing heroes, attend the weigh-ins and participate in youth and other fan-friendly events.
The launch venue for the event will be Paradise Point Marina. The exciting Classic weigh-in show and the Classic Outdoor Show will take place in the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. With the exception of the launch site, all of the venues for the event are located in close proximity.
ESPN and ESPN2 will offer same-day coverage of the Classic during the last three days of its Bass Week programs, which will air from 5-6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 July 22-24; 4-6 p.m. on ESPN2 July 25 and 26; and 7-11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 and 7-8 p.m. on ESPN July 27.