Rains High School is on the forefront of participating in the fastest growing high school sport in the nation. That sport; competitive high school fishing.
Rains High School is one of the first schools in Northeast Texas to have a Student Angler Federation fishing team. With six co-ed teams already organized, Rains will represent the school and community by competing around the State of Texas and beyond for college scholarships.
"In addition to leading this charge in Northeast Texas, we are giving our students the chance to develop hands-on skills in science, technology, mathematics, language arts, time management, decision making, and community involvement," said team adviser Captain Jeff Lobaugh. "While doing all these things, we hope to emphasize how best to preserve and protect our natural resources."
In 2010, FLW Outdoors held the first nationally sanctioned high school fishing tournament in the State of Texas. In the first year, ten teams competed for the state title. In 2012, that number increased to 36 teams statewide. On February 2, 2013, 48 teams from ten different high schools competed in the Lumberton I.S.D Invitational at Lake Sam Rayburn including four teams from Rains High School.
"Based upon these trends, we anticipate that the State of Texas Championship in March will field over 100 teams," Lobaugh said. "This sport is taking off like Wild Fire. Unlike other sports, high school fishing does not discriminate by size or physical ability. High school fishing is quite unique in the fact that both young men and women compete on the same platform regardless of gender."
Lobaugh said the interest in competitive high school fishing is advantageous for the fishing industry going forward due to the fact that a largely untapped customer base, (women), are now quickly entering a sport that for most of it's history has been dominated by men.
"We want every student that has an interest in participating in the sport of fishing to have an equal opportunity to do so," Lobaugh emphasized.
A survey conducted recently revealed that 60% of students involved in high school Fishing tournaments were not participating in any other sport.
"This shows that schools have a new avenue to tap into the student body and give them the opportunity to represent their school and community," Lobaugh said.
At present, Texas High School Fishing is not a sanctioned UIL sport, thereby not permitting financial funding from the school district.
"All of our funding is generated from the fishing industry, student fund raising activities, and the generosity of local businesses in and around the Lake Fork area," Lobaugh said.
Lobaugh first learned of competitive high school bass fishing teams being formed last year when he served as a boat marshal at an FLW College Fishing event on Toledo Bend. "The concept of competitive fishing at this level intrigued me," said the Captain. "I researched and encouraged my son to seek out additional information since he would be moving into high school the following school year."
This past summer the Rains County Leader wrote an article of the possible formation of the Rains High School Fishing Team and Lobaugh researched the idea even further.
"I had no idea that in less than 6-months I would be assisting with coaching, fund raising, and setting up guest speakers for our home town school," Lobaugh said. "As the team developed, I estimated we would field one or two teams at Rains in the first year and see tournament fields around 15-20 boats."
Lobaugh, a fisherman himself, has taken the year off from competitive tournament fishing and has committed the entire year to support the Rains High School Team.
"My goal is to "Give Back" to the sport that has given so much to me," said Lobaugh.