By Greg Gulas
There are many non-traditional students enrolled at Youngtown State University.
None, however, have as much on their plates while embracing their situation with a child’s enthusiasm like Chuck Cremeans, president of the YSU’s Bass Club.
A native of Newton Falls and bass fishing enthusiast since when he can remember, the 34-year-old Boardman resident will now spend the next 10 weeks getting his club team ready for the FLW College Fishing National Championship, which will be held Thursday-Saturday at Lake Keowee in Walhalla, S.C., and televised on NBC’s Sports Channel.
Cremeans’ team was one of 39 colleges (and one of just two from Ohio to qualify) that qualified for this year’s tournament, punching their ticket by placing seventh overall at the Chesapeake Bay Invitational.
“We fished Chesapeake Bay and it really was a slow bite. This tournament was the biggest tournament that I had ever fished and we needed to finish in the top-10 the first day in order to make the cut,” Cremeans said. “When you have that kind of pressure and you study a body of water and read maps, you feel like you should be able to just walk in there and catch a ton of fish. That just wasn’t the case for us, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
“The fish were shut off and it was a grind to catch any fish. It was my partner, Zach Alcorn that caught the fish on that first day which elevated us to eighth-place. On the second day I was able to put one small fish in the boat, which gave us a seventh-place finish and helped qualify our team for the championship.”
Until enrolling at YSU, Cremeans worked odd jobs since high school but wanted to change his career path and now hopes to become a special education teacher.
Carrie Anderson, assistant director of student activities, oversees all registered student organizations and clubs. She recalls her first meeting with Cremeans and his desire to start a bass fishing club.
“Chuck came into our office, highly motivated with the hopes of starting a bass fishing club organization. While he did not know all details in regards to starting an organization, he had a clear vision of what tournaments he wanted to enter as well as what leagues with which to immediately register in order to compete,” Anderson said. “A non-traditional student with plenty of enthusiasm and other responsibilities on his plate, he found the time to recruit other members with a similar interest who also shared his passion for competitive fishing. He found a campus advisor, filed all necessary governing documents and the rest as they say was history. His tenacity paid off immediately as they placed in their very first competition and have since advanced to the national championship. He truly is one of our student organization success stories.”
It was while watching the pros on television that intrigued Cremeans enough that he would go outside and cast into a bucket in his back yard; a work-out which over the years prepared him for local competitions.
While attending YSU he wanted to branch out and travel more, hoping to experience new bodies of water in which to fish.
When he found out that both Kent State University and the University of Akron had a college fishing club, he left no stone unturned in order to start the club sport at YSU.
“After Carrie, I got in touch with Joe Conroy, who oversees all club sports. That’s when we put the final touches on the club,” Cremeans said. “While there I met Zach Alcorn and that is how our team began to take shape.”
Their first tournament at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia yielded a seventh-place finish, following that up with a runner-up finish at the Potomac River Tourney just outside Washington, D.C. They also finished 15th at New York’s Lake Champlain Tournament.
“It’s been a great run thus far and we are preparing diligently for this upcoming national competition,” Cremeans noted. “I have looked forward to and dreamed of this moment for many years. Now that it is a little over two months away, we still have a lot or work and research to do in order to be fully prepared.”
In addition to Cremeans and Alcorn (vice-president), other members of the club include Scott Stoner (treasurer) and Stan Miketa.