DICK’S Sporting Goods To Entitle The Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie Of The Year Award
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — DICK’S Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, has become the title sponsor of the coveted Bassmaster Rookie of the Year award for 2019.
Only first-time qualifiers for the Bassmaster Elite Series who are new to top-tier competitive bass fishing are eligible to receive the DICK’S Sporting Goods Rookie of the Year award, which will be presented to the rookie who ranks highest in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race by the end of the season.
DICK’S will award a $500 prize to the points leader in the Rookie of the Year race at the conclusion of each of the nine regular-season Elite Series tournaments, including the season opener — the Bassmaster Elite at the St. Johns River — which gets under way Feb. 7 at Palatka, Fla.
At the end of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship tournament in September, the angler crowned Rookie of the Year will receive $10,000 from DICK’S.
The AOY Championship, to be held at a site to be announced later, also determines the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 39 of the 53 berths in the 2020 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.
“We’re excited that DICK’S has decided to encourage and reward some of the up-and-coming anglers on the Elite Series by sponsoring Rookie of the Year,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “We have one of the strongest fields of rookie anglers ever to qualify for the Elite Series, including 12 standouts in college bass fishing. We expect the ROY race to be intense this year.
“DICK’S has been a presenting sponsor of the Bassmaster Classic, our Classic Expo and many other events and programs over the years, and we appreciate their support for this prestigious award. I know the anglers, along with our fans and members, do, too.”
A total of 18 Elite anglers who qualified through the Bassmaster Opens Series or the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship are deemed rookies. Other newcomers from the Opens have built successful careers with other tournament organizations and now are fulfilling long-held dreams of competing in the Elite Series and, perhaps, qualifying for the ultimate stage in bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
Anglers earn AOY points based on their finishes at each of the 10 stops along the 2019 Elite Series circuit, including the AOY Championship. Points are allocated on the basis of one point per place, in descending order from first place, which is worth 75 points in a full-field event.
Jake Whitaker of Fairview, N.C., the 2018 Bassmaster Rookie of the Year, lists the award as one of the highest honors he’s ever received. An all-conference lineman on his high school’s state championship football team, Whitaker switched to bass fishing when he enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He and his teammate won the 2014 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship in 2014, and he was the 2015 College Classic exhibition tournament champion.
Whitaker said the ROY title has been great for his career and valuable in terms of sponsor support. More than that, however, his quest for the title spurred him to fish to the best of his abilities.
“The rookies who came in last year were really good fishermen. They had proved themselves in the Opens and on other circuits,” he said. “To be ranked the best among those guys was really cool.”
He said the competition for the title this year is just as stiff, adding, “I tell people all the time that there may be some new faces this year, but there’s a lot of guys everyone’s going to know about really soon.”
His rookie year behind him, Whitaker has set his sights even higher. From Rookie of the Year to Angler of the Year? It’s happened before, and Whitaker wants to make it happen again.
The DICK’S Sporting Goods Rookie of the Year race will be covered in all of B.A.S.S.’s industry-leading media, including Bassmaster LIVE, Bassmaster.com, The Bassmasters TV show, Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times magazines, and its extensive social media network. For more information and to follow the action from the St. Johns River live, visit Bassmaster.com.
The following Elite Series anglers will be competing for the 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods Rookie of the Year title:
Quentin Cappo, Prairieville, La.
Gary Clouse, Winchester, Tenn.
Drew Cook*, Midway, Fla.
Rob Digh, Denver, N.C.
Greg DiPalma, Millville, N.J.
Dale Hightower, Mannford, Okla.
Harvey Horne, Bella Vista, Ark.
Derek Hudnall, Baton Route, La.
Mike Huff*, Corbin, Ky.
Lee Livesay, Longview, Texas
Ed Loughran III, Richmond, Va.
Luke Palmer, Coalgate, Okla.
Garrett Paquette*, Canton, Mich.
Randy Pierson, Oakdale, Calif.
Tyler Rivet*, Raceland, La.
Frank Talley, Temple, Texas
Patrick Walters*, Summerville, S.C.
Brad Whatley, Bivins, Texas
(*Former Bassmaster College Series angler)