KVD Gives Back to Support the 'Future of the Sport'

By Rachel Dubrovin - June 8, 2018

He’s the most recognized name in professional bass fishing, and now his list of accomplishments is even longer. Kevin VanDam has created the ‘College Bass Tour’ to give young anglers in his home state of Michigan a chance to compete in tournaments.

“I’ve watched this whole college fishing, bass fishing phenomenon kind of explode nationally,” VanDam said, “And in our area, in Michigan, it’s taken a little longer to take off.”

KVD had the knowledge and the resources to do something about that. He says he contacted sponsors and received overwhelming support from the industry. VanDam says support from his family was also instrumental in making the College Bass Tour happen. VanDam’s wife, Sherry, helped organized the event and his brother, Randy VanDam, who owns a sporting goods store in Michigan, is one of the sponsors.

“We just wanted to create a great platform for this next generation of anglers,” he said.

Jim Sprague will be the tournament director, since VanDam is often traveling from one competition to the next. VanDam has twins sons, Jackson and Nicholas, who are both studying at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He says they’ll both help with the tour, as well.

“In the end, I’m not doing it for any other reason than to help these anglers have something that’s designed just for them,” VanDam said.

He says the payout and prizes will make competing in the tournaments well worth it for the college anglers. But it’s not just about fishing. VanDam says the tournaments will be family friendly, with events that everyone can enjoy.

“Most of these anglers, their biggest sponsor is mom and dad. So we want to try and take care of them,” said VanDam.

The tournaments are open to college students anywhere in the country, but the competitions will be held on lakes in Michigan. The first competition kicks off on June 16 on Muskegon Lake, and you can check out the website for all the details.

“It’s the future of competitive bass fishing, right here. It’s exciting to see the growth.”

“I’m not doing it for any other reason than to help these anglers have something that’s designed just for them.”
Major League Fishing Pro Kevin VanDam at the 2018 Challenge Cup

VanDam doesn’t have plans to expand the tour into other states, however he says other pros could easily create similar tours.

“We’re creating a model that I think is easily duplicatable in other areas. You know, my hope is that some of my peers might do the same thing in their area.”

Most pros will tell you that it’s essential for young anglers to go to college and get a degree if they’re truly interested in going pro.

“I think it’s the most important thing,” VanDam said, “Now, in this era, you really have to have a college degree to be successful. Sponsors and companies and things like that, that’s really what they’re looking for.”

VanDam says most of the anglers who participate in the College Bass Tour won’t become a pro angler. But he’s just happy to help young people get involved in the sport that he loves.

“We think it’s the right thing to do and we’ve been very blessed in this industry for a long time and it’s a great way that we can help this next generation of anglers have a great platform to get started,” VanDam said.

Later this year, VanDam will be inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mo. He says he’s excited to bring his entire family, including his parents, to the ceremony at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in September.

“It kind of was a bit of a surprise. But I’m definitely honored. We got a great group going in this year.”

MLF Pro Gary Klein will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

You can watch KVD compete in the second Sudden Death Round of the 2018 Challenge Cup on Saturday, June 9 from 2-4pm ET on Outdoor Channel.

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