Bassmaster Classic Notebook: Olympic Gold Medalist Brendan Hansen Loving Every Minute of His First Bassmaster Classic

Category: press release

 Feb 21st, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Feb 21st, 2009 at 12:00 AM

SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, La. – A 2004 and 2008 U.S. Olympic team swimmer who took home four medals, including two golds, Brendan Hansen drove with two friends from his home in Austin, Texas, to experience the 39th Bassmaster Classic.

“I have enjoyed the whole experience, (especially) the weigh-in, seeing the thousands who showed up for the first day,” said the 27-year-old swimmer who specializes in the breaststroke. “It just goes to show you where the sport is going. It’s pretty awesome to be a part of it.”

When Toyota, an official Bassmaster Classic sponsor and a sponsor of Hansen when he was swimming, invited him to the Classic, he jumped at the chance. An avid outdoorsman, Hansen’s trip to the Classic was purely for pleasure.

“It’s my first Classic,” he said Saturday as he cruised the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center, after which he planned to attend the Day Two weigh-in at Bossier City’s CenturyTel Center. “This is the year I’m taking time off from swimming, so I’ve had time to enjoy other things, including outdoor sports.

“I’ve been swimming since I was 4, and this is the first long break I’ve taken. A lot of coaches told me I needed to have more of a balance in my life. They encouraged me to take the year off, and told me to enjoy myself because it’ll do wonders for me come the 2012 Olympics in London.”

Hansen has a long list of records and medals earned in competitive swimming, including a world record for the 400-meter medley at the 2008 Olympics, the event in which he captured one of his two golds. He earned his other gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in the same event as well as a silver in the 100-meter breaststroke and a bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Obviously the consummate competitor, he smiled when asked if he’d ever considered aspiring to pro-level bass fishing.

“No, I’d say I’m a weekend warrior,” he said. “For me it’s always been a way to step away from swimming. When you’re fishing, you’re not worried about anything else but what’s in front of you. That’s the beauty of the sport.”

Hansen politely dodged the question of which Classic contenders he’s cheering for.

“But I’m a big (Michael) Iaconelli fan just because of what he does for the sport, bringing new ideas to it,” he said.

CLASSIC RECORD: The attendance Friday at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Shreveport Convention Center set the opening-day record at a Bassmaster Classic show.

BASS officials said Expo attendance Friday, Feb. 20, was 16,223. The previous record was set at the 2003 Classic in New Orleans, when 12,056 fans visited the Expo on opening day.

And, despite temperatures in the 30s Friday morning, 1,500 fans showed up to see the 51 contenders launch at 7:15 a.m. for the first day’s competition at the Red River South Marina in Bossier City.

OPENING ACT: Fresh from a concert in cowbell country – aka Starkville, Miss., home of cowbell-happy Mississippi State – country music sensation the Zac Brown Band performed a free concert for fans just before the Saturday weigh-in of the Bassmaster Classic at CenturyTel Center in Bossier City.

The band entertained the big crowd for about 40 minutes, wrapping up the set with its No. 1 single, “Chicken Fried,” which coincidentally is the song chosen by Bassmaster Classic contender Bobby Lane to play when he and his rig enter the arena and hit the weigh-in stage.

“That’s killer, I want to meet him,” said Zac Brown, founder of the band from Atlanta.

Brown said that the band’s decision to perform at the Bassmaster Classic was easy to make. Half of the group consists of avid outdoorsmen, and the other half are guys who are excited to be introduced to the sport on the grandest stage in all of fishing.

“I grew up an outdoorsman,” said Brown, who calls Dahlonega, Ga., his hometown. “My dad has taken me fishing and hunting since I could talk and fit in an Igloo cooler and shut the lid on me. I love the art of fishing and I love the people who are the Jedis of it. I’m just here to soak it all in.”

Guitarist and organist Coy Bowles, whose 30th birthday observance Friday left the band members admittedly moving in slow-mo Saturday, knows something about fish. He raised catfish in Thomaston, Ga., with his dad for several years.

“But this is new for a lot of us,” said Jimmy De Martini, who plays fiddle and contributes on vocals. “So we’re excited to be a part of it.”

The group took a break and then sang the national anthem a cappella to officially kick off the second day of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. After watching the weigh-in festivities for a bit, they headed to the Shreveport Convention Center to take in the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

WORKING FOR THE FISHERIES: While the 51 Bassmaster Classic anglers are figuring out the Red River this week, Bass Federation Nation members are putting their heads together to come up with strategies they can use in their work to protect and improve the sport of bass fishing.

Representing their states, 30 Federation Conservation Directors are taking part in three days of workshops in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., all organized by BASS Conservation.

“These Classic Conservation Workshops are intended to equip the state BASS Federation Nation conservation leaders with information and strategies to help them deal with various issues, whether happening in their backyards or Washington, D.C.,” said Chris Horton, conservation director of BASS.

“From grant writing, climate change, working with state legislators, federal legislation to tournament fish care and habitat management, the broad range of topics provides the necessary information for the BASS Federation Nation to cohesively and successfully meet challenges to angler access and our natural resources,” Horton said.

One of the many guest participants was Dr. Terry Riley, vice president of policy initiative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Horton said he gave a presentation on climate change and talked about the TRCP’s initiative to address climate change concerns.

“He told us how we as a community of anglers and sportsmen should attempt to get funding for their programs to improve fish habitat through Congressional climate change bills and other initiatives,” Horton said.

This year’s workshops continue a long tradition of BASS hosting annual conservation-related forums at the Classic venue.

THINK PINK: It’s hard to miss the bass boat with the pink wrap parked on the floor of the Shreveport Convention Center at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

No, the rig does not belong to Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin Short. It’s the property of Darla Bardelli of Phoenix, a pro on the Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour.

She was at the Expo to sell raffle tickets on the boat to raise money for a non-profit group, Anglers Against Breast Cancer.

“It benefits families of breast cancer survivors, primarily the men,” said Bardelli, a breast cancer survivor herself. “This is geared toward husbands. What I found in my journey fighting breast cancer is there’s not any support system – no publications, books or anything – for husbands, fathers and sons as their loved one is going through the hard experience.”

While she explained the group’s mission, she had to stop frequently to hand tickets to Expo attendees who wanted to support the cause.

She said she already has sold hundreds this week, but will continue to work throughout the tournament season to reach her goal of selling 5,000 tickets before the October 2009 raffle.

“I will be fishing from this boat on the WBT tour this year,” she said.

She’ll be hard to miss: Her tow vehicle is wrapped to match the boat.

HORTON ON THE MEND: Tim Horton of Muscle Shoals, Ala., took sick Friday night and had to drop out of the Classic competition.

“He is feeling better, but he had a tough night and tough morning,” said Trip Weldon, BASS Tournament Director, on the Classic stage just before Saturday’s weigh-in began at CenturyTel Center in Bossier City.

DON’T FORGET TO SMILE: Friday at noon, scores of men, women and children were lined up at the Toyota Outdoor Tour at the Toyota booth inside the Shreveport Convention Center to have their pictures taken.

The long wait was worthwhile for fans — the fun photograph would be a free souvenir for attending the 2009 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Each fan stood against a green screen for the photo. Their images will later be superimposed on master images of either a country band, a NASCAR scene or a boat on a lake – the fan’s choice. The result is a photo that makes it look like the fan was actually there. Fans are given a code to input online at http://www.ToyotaFishing.com, and they’ll be able to print the image.

“Haul Bass” was the most popular backdrop of this year’s Classic, according to Toyota Outdoor Tour’s Dave Parsons. He said about 500 fans got in on the fun Friday, and he expected the count to hit 700 to 800 people by the close of Saturday’s Expo.

The Expo continues Sunday. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sponsors of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Marine.

About BASS

For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.


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