Behind the Scenes with the
Skeet Reese at the 2009 Bassmaster Classic
As I stepped on to the
family and friends bus to the final day weigh in, I was confronted with one of
the most surreal experiences any bass angler or fan could ever face. I grabbed a
seat in the second row of the bus. In the first row, directly in front of me
was Lesley Martens, wife of Aaron Martens. Directly across the isle from me was
Kim Reese, wife of Skeet Reese. At the time, Bassmaster and BassZone had the
unofficial results with Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens and Mike Iaconelli in a
virtual tie for the lead. It’s a twenty minute bus ride from the expo center to
the weigh-in arena. But, before we discuss that bus ride and the events to
follow let’s discuss what I was doing there and how I got that seat on the bus
in the first place.
Skeet Reese is the new Bassmaster
Classic Champion, but here is the backstory from inside the Skeet camp courtesy
of Leo who traveled with Skeet's family to the event
Just a few months ago
MonsterFishingTackle.com became a sponsor of Skeet Reese. That is also when
I personally became the webmaster for SkeetReeseInc.com, Skeet Reese’s
website. Since we were now part of the Skeet Reese sponsorship team, Skeet
invited us to be a part of his booth at the Classic, where we could pass out
flyers and promote MonsterFishingTackle.com to those visiting the booth. So for
the 2009 Classic Pat Elie (my co-worker) and I became part of the Skeet Reese
entourage along with several members of his family, some of his close friends,
his wife Kim and his two daughters Lea Marie and Courtney.
Leo on the far right with Skeet's
Arriving late on Thursday
night Pat and I didn’t get a chance to catch up with Skeet or any of his family
or friends before the beginning of the show on Friday. On Friday, we met with
the rest of the crew and spent the day showing off Skeet Reese merchandise and
passing out MonsterFishingTackle.com flyers. It wasn’t until after the day one
weigh in that we finally got to meet up with Skeet. That’s when he stopped by
the booth to sign some autographs and meet with fans and spectators. Even after
a long day on the water, in the biggest tournament of the year, Skeet took the
time to stop by his the booth for several hours to meet with fans. He signed
hundreds of autographs and posed for even more pictures with people of all ages
from all over the country. At the time Skeet stood in 13th place just
a little more than 5 pounds behind leader Boyd Duckett.
Leo gives Skeet a good luck charm
After the crowds thinned out
I asked Skeet if he would like one of my “lucky charm” swimbait necklaces and he
was excited to take it and wear it. He gladly posed for a photo with it on and
we briefly discussed his standings with me. I told him he was in good position
and he replied that he wasn’t thrilled with it, but he was still in the hunt.
Soon after Skeet headed to grab some food and get some sleep for day 2. For the
rest of us in the booth, we wrapped up the show for the day and headed to get
some rest as well.
Ike gets hooked up with the good
luck charm as well
Just what would day two hold
for Skeet? Well, we were all wondering that in the booth so we had the laptops
tuned in to BassZone.com and Bassmaster.com to track Skeet’s progress. It
wasn’t but a few hours into the day when both sites reported Skeet in the lead.
The booth definitely had a feeling of anxiety in it as we all realized Skeet was
well on his way to accomplishing his number one goal. We also knew there was a
lot of time to go and we didn’t know if the reports were even close to accurate.
Ish gets in on the action too
As the weigh in neared,
Skeet’s wife Kim had to be urged by the rest of us to get down to the arena to
support him. Kim’s one of the most unselfish people I have ever met and she
tried to talk us into going and leave her there at the booth. None of us were
going to let that happen. She finally took our advice and headed for the weigh
in but, when she arrived the arena was full and they were turning fans away at
the door. Luckily BASS got her in just in time to see Skeet weigh in his big bag
of 22 pounds 9 ounces, the third biggest bag of the entire event. When it all
shook out Skeet wasn’t in the lead, it was 2 time Classic Qualifier and South
Dakotan angler Jami Fralick who was in the lead. Skeet trailed by a total of 2
ounces and sat in second place.
Ike with fans at the event
We met up with Kim and Skeet
in the lobby of the angler’s hotel. Skeet was feeling pretty good about his
position and Kim was holding up pretty well also. It was in the lobby where I
ran into my friend Mike Iaconelli. At the time Ike was in 9th place
and also still in the hunt for his second Classic title. I thought I’d throw Ike
a little luck as well, so I when I showed him the “lucky charm” swimbait
necklace he was all over it. He immediately threw it on and said he’d wear it on
day 3. After Ike, Skeet and many of the other anglers signed some autographs
they were all off to bed to get ready for the final day.
Skeet takes time to sign
I am sure day three was the
longest day in Kim Reese’s life. We had all recommended for her to get a little
extra sleep and show up to the booth late “just in case”. She did just that but,
once she arrived whatever extra rest she might have gotten the night before was
quickly used up with the anxiety brought on by the news “they have Skeet in the
lead.” For the next 3 or 4 hours it seemed like we spent more time checking the
unofficial web results than we did helping visitors in the booth. Much like the
ESPN television coverage the web coverage had Skeet in the lead, then Ike, then
back to Skeet again.
Personalizing messages for fans
By the time 2:00 PM rolled
around we knew we had to make a decision between keeping the booth open and
missing the weigh in or closing up the booth. The whole group got to work
quickly on wrapping the booth up so we could get out to the weigh in. But it
wasn’t an easy decision. While we were wrapping the booth up a nice young lady
with her two teenage kids and one of their friends came to the booth to pick up
some Skeet Reese apparel. She might have made the best purchase of the entire
show picking up one of two 2008 Skeet Reese worn tournament jerseys. We told her
that should he win, she could triple her money on eBay this week. However, don’t
start scouring eBay just yet because she was set on hanging it on the wall after
she wore it to the weigh in.
Ok, I have to break from the
story here for a second and just tell you what kind of person Skeet’s wife is.
Although I have known Skeet for quite some time, this is the first time I have
ever met Kim and their two daughters. Kim wouldn’t leave the booth until all of
us left the booth, essentially risking the chance to see her husband win the
biggest event of his life. Besides that, she constantly was concerned with
making sure we had food, drinks, snacks and that we were all having a good time.
It’s tough to put into words how great a catch Kim was for Skeet, but it’s
obvious his catching skills aren’t limited to fish!
Skeet's wife Kim (right) was
extremely down to earth and nice to everyone around her
Heading to the weigh in