DECEMBER 13, 2018

It's the Little Things that Count

McKendree University eyes Team of the Year title; finds success in attention to detail.

Park Falls, WI – While winning college bass tournaments often grabs the headlines, within the sport, Team of the Year is the top award. Taking down the title requires consistency; teams acquire points throughout the year based on performances across all three major college fishing leagues: BASS, FLW and Bass Pro Shops Collegiate Bass Fishing. In order to win Team of the Year, a school can’t stumble.

The bass fishing team at McKendree University has been as consistent as any – placing in the top-10 in Team of the Year standings each of the last five years – but is still yet to prevail. Currently leading the standings, their chances may be better than ever, thanks to a key coaching principle.

Trey Schoeder and James Brown

“I’ve got a lot of good freshmen right now,” said coach Jon Rinderer. A foundation since the team’s inception, Rinderer’s approach contradicts the belief that athlete turnover can be the Achilles heel of a good college sports team. Freshmen offer a clean slate, and detailed coaching pays dividends.

“Fishing is just like other sports,” the coach insists, referring to the need for practice. “So many variables go into a good tournament day.” Not unlike free-throw drills in basketball, Rinderer works with his team on some of fishing’s overlooked aspects.

“We’re paying attention to the little things,” Rinderer stated. “Last season, we had a tournament where a few of my kids missed a bunch of fish on day one. I worked with them on hook sharpening, and the following day, they went out and caught their limits.”

The increase in young team members has also brought a shift in strategy. “Teammates have bought into the aspect of communicating with one another,” Rinderer added. Once a secretive sport, competitive bass fishing has blossomed into one where athletes find an advantage to sharing intricate details of their successes and failures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the college fishing circle, where Team of the Year is so important.

Being properly equipped goes a long way toward success, and several members of McKendree’s bass team have relied on St. Croix Rods’ scholastic support to stay ahead of the competition.

“The St. Croix Scholastic Program has been great for us,” said Rinderer. “I’ve got a lot of guys on my team that are now using St. Croix.”

Obviously, it’s working.

Bailey Bleser

Senior standout Brady Faust has relied on St. Croix rods through much of his career at McKendree, posting top-10 statistics in nearly every division of college fishing. Trey Schroeder recently used his St. Croix gear to qualify for the FLW / Yeti College Fishing National Championship, and freshmen Bailey Bleser transitioned from a standout in high school fishing to strong performances for McKendree University.

“Bailey’s a great student, pays incredible attention to detail, and gives 110% in all that he does,” Rinderer added.

Such attention to detail has always been the theme at McKendree, as small class sizes lead to an intimate learning experience. And, with such scrutiny now a core principle for the school’s bass fishing team, the quest for Team of the Year may be closer than ever.

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About St. Croix Rod

Headquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for 70 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Avid®, Premier®, Tidemaster®, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo®, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.

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Dena Woerner

Traditions Media, LLC

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