BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 35

That’s not to say that the definition of his incredible career has been completed, and it was his 3rd place finish at the 2008 Classic at Lake Hartwell in Greenville, S.C. that proves just how much VanDam wants to win. Having left stage mo- ments after his final weight of 43 pounds, 8 ounces had been eclipsed by 2nd place finisher Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss. VanDam walked down the tunnel in the bowels of Greenville’s Bi-Lo Center toward the media center and press room where only moments later eventual Champion Alton Jones would be giving his Champion’s Press Conference. Instead of striding into the media cen- ter to face the dozens of media awaiting the details of the angler’s patterns, Van- Dam stopped short in the concrete tun- nel, stood by the entrance and watched as people scurried for the best position in the press room. As he was approached for questions by one reporter, VanDam began to speak, then stopped mid-sentence and turned his eyes to the floor. When his eyes re- turned to the reporter’s, they were moist with frustration. He changed what he intended to say and instead said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed after a Bassmaster Classic,” said a let- down VanDam. “When my practice was over, I knew I was on the fish to win, in fact I’ve never felt so confident about it, and I’m truly disappointed with my per- formance.” Having just finished a Bassmaster Classic in 3rd place, a position that most anglers would deem as a career high, Van- Dam was left with a feeling of regret. He was one of the first anglers to greet and congratulate Jones that day, his respect for the accomplishment creating a need to express it to the winner. However, any- one within reach could sense the feeling of competitive drive building within him. VanDam would go on to win two tournaments on the Bassmaster Elite Se- ries in 2008, and as the 11 event season wound to a close, he would hold his fourth Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy aloft in triumph. “I don’t really stop and think about goals or my legacy,” VanDam said in clos- ing. “I fish hard, I fish to win, and I hope that one day, when my career is over peo- ple will see that I did it right. “I don’t have a concern about records, I do this because I love to do it, when I feel like it is a grind to get out of bed in the morning, I’ll quit. I will go out the same way I have for the last 20 years, to try and win; it’s the best way I know to respect the sport.” BW

FAmiLY Business

Like most of the successful anglers in the business, VanDam’s schedule is tightly packed with appearances and appointments. With all of the distractions it’s a wonder that he can maintain his competitive drive and focus to continue winning. He gives a lot of the credit for that to his wife Photo by BASS Communication s – Seigo Saito Sherry. “Sherry acts as my business manager,” VanDam said. “Along with taking care of Jackson and Nicholas, (their twin sons) she makes sure my schedule is maintained, and that all of my requirements are met. She really allows me to focus on my fishing and doesn’t let any of the details slip by the wayside.” He also said she looks out for his sanity and the well being of the family. “The demand on my time is such that if I didn’t schedule time off, I wouldn’t get any,” he reported. “Sherry makes sure that we take the time we need as a family to enjoy each other’s company and make sure we have the rest we need; I couldn’t do this without her.”

May/June 2009 »