Being one of the most successful club sports at NC State, the Bass Fishing team prides itself on having a leader who can lead the team in the direction it needs to go to accomplish its goals.
This year the president is Gilliam Tharpe, a junior studying agricultural business from Statesville, North Carolina. His home lake that he grew up fishing on was Lake Norman, of which the team competes in tournaments every year.
After losing many seniors from last year's team, Tharpe felt inclined to take the initiative to be the next president of the BassPack.
“In my first two years, I got obviously invested enough to really care about the club, and we had a lot of guys graduate, and it was kind of like ‘Who's going to do it?’” Tharpe said. “I didn’t want to see it collapse, so I kind of just felt obligated to.”
Tharpe grew up loving the outdoors as a kid -- the typical country boy loving to hunt and fish.
“I was always wanting to come to State,” Tharpe said. “A guy from my hometown was on the BassPack when they last won their National Championships, and was a friend of my Dad. So I remember hearing Dad talk about him, and I knew when I got here I was going to get into it.”
Tharpe came into college having some competitive bass fishing experience that he got as a member of Statesville High School’s team but has learned many new strategies since he’s become a member of the BassPack.
“I would say that 75% of what I know right now in bass fishing is from the club, probably more,” Tharpe said. “When I first got here, it was like bare and bones. Obviously, I knew how to run and boat and that kind of thing, but I maybe had one or two things that I knew and they weren't doing that, so from getting to know all these people, I have learned a ton.”
Tharpe has had much success in his first two years as a member of the BassPack, including finishing third at a national tournament and ninth out of 250 boats on a tournament at Lake Norman. One of his favorite parts of being on the team is traveling for tournaments in the Spring with his teammates.
“Traveling is awesome,” Tharpe said. “I remember freshmen year we had 16 people in a house, with two bathrooms, and of course it was a mess, but it was lots of fun with a lot of good stories, so traveling is definitely the best part.”
Tharpe has traveled to tournaments all across the region including Tennessee and Alabama as a member of the BassPack, but there is one trip that sticks out to him.
“The farthest and I'd say the coolest trip was definitely over the summer we went to the St. Lawrence River, so that's the New York and Canada border,” Tharpe said. “17-hour trip, and we finished 17th out of 150, but we were so close to making it to the third day of competition.”
With two more years left before he graduates, Tharpe wants to leave his legacy on the team as many did before.
“This year we're going to travel more than we did last year, so I want to have a big trophy for the club,” Tharpe said. “Especially since you have the history of all those guys who won National Championships back in the day and you see pictures of NC State jerseys holding these giant crystal trophies, like you want to do something about it so they can say ‘Yeah, the young guys are doing alright.’”
It remains to be seen, whether or not Tharpe can reach the goals that he has set, but big catch or no catch, Tharpe gets to do what he loves for the school he loves. For a boy from Statesville, that is getting to live out his college dream, there isn't much to complain about.