Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Difficult Yet Beautiful 2019

I finished 2019 pretty beat down and tired......

If you look, my last blog post was July 7 of this year. Not too long after that I caught my last bass of the year. And right after the 4th of July break, my life got as busy and complicated as any in my professional career.

It began actually this time last year when I began the process of hiring a new football coach to replace a 29 year Hall of Fame coach.... that was just a part of my 2019. I have had the crazy privilege of having TWO daughters get married (Feb and July), hired a new coach, participated in building a new program including new weight room, new meeting rooms, new storage spaces, new schedules... coaching varsity football again where we lost the first two games, 6 starters over the course of the season, and still ended up 12-2.

At some point, the grind started wearing on me and I went from swimming against the current to scrambling to keep from drowning. The domination of expectations and demands put a strain on all of my important relationships and took a toll on me physically.

The root word for ‘athlete’ means “to strain or agonize” . Paul uses athletics as an analogy in I Corinthians 9:25- Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

The only reason I coach is that I truly believe in the process that rigor and hard things are beneficial, over time, when applied by the sovereign hand of God (Romans 8:28). The relationships that are built when teams struggle together are very special and last beyond playing days. The lessons learned in both victory and defeat are part of the training that young people need to navigate a world of difficulty and opportunity.

But endless straining can create a negative momentum  and somewhere along the way for me, it became the law of diminishing returns.

So I need to do better in 2020..... 

And I don't have a great game plan yet- been praying... and have some thoughts... but nothing solid.

Gravity is always pulling and my task is to keep fighting.

There is a certain satisfaction of getting up again....

I don't know if I will blog in 2020. I have a meeting this Friday to look at podcasting.... still thinking.

This blog has always been my way of documenting my life and world view.... mainly to my daughters.

If the medium holds, my girls may read these things years from now and it soothes or encourages them to keep walking in the light... even as darkness grows.

Part of God's grace is new beginnings.... today is a new day... and tomorrow is a new year.

So pray for me as I lean on God's Word to show His way.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Press On in Positivity Regardless of the Evidence to the Contrary

Hard to believe I haven't posted since May.... that is all the proof I need to confirm life is at a full court press right now.... what a year! Oldest daughter wedding on Feb. 9 and daughter #2 marriage is July 20. We moved one to Johnson City, TN, moved another one local, and daughter #3 has been in Italy and in Israel this summer... had to put our dog down... and work has been insane with revamping football and doing a major facility overhaul.... and on top of that been nursing a sports hernia.... which has really hampered my exercise.... so to put it mildly, I have been straining quite a bit and getting ground down... 

and in the background, I feel the urge of life leaking away... in just a few weeks I will turn 55... I just had to confirm that by the way ...LOL

Here is what Siri told me..... when I just now asked her....

You are 54 years, 11 months, and 1 day old.
You were born on a Thursday and have been alive for 20,058 days!

So, if my blog writing is a sort of diary for posterity for loved ones... what is my report? How am I doing?  

I am winning.....though I struggle... and on my way to a glorious victory... regardless of my enemies who never stop.

I am blessed to receive the fruit of the prayers of others- when I read this, I almost feel like Paul is praying for me.

Colossians 1:9–14
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, [10] so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11] being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; [12] giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [13] He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

I wanted to comment on this...because this is what God continues to point out.... am I going to take on the way of winners or adopt the lean and outlook of losers?


These things are so easy to write.... right?

When I speak of relentless positivity... it can seem so insincere and petty.... unrealistic optimism can be a mental illness as well...  it never takes long for idealistic ambitions to be ground away in broken promises and unfulfilled vows.

No one is immune from the shudder of unspeakable darkness... tragedy happens, evil exists, and our own hearts are prone to dive in head first to rash decisions and suicidal habits.


I am just beginning a new year of athletic evaluations and plans.... we had quite a year of athletic success and achievement. But it is funny, every team I have ever been around... every year... every school... every sport.... every coach... has a surrounding drum beat of negativity. It has universal qualities to it. Any human enterprise will have the entrapments of human sin nature, and I am prone to it as well.

A key ingredient in any successful competition campaign is how well a team can rise about the drains of energy and progress.... selfishness, envy, trust issues....

A part of that list is as old as Paul's letter I quoted earlier...

Colossians 3:8–9
[8] But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. [9] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices (ESV)

This doesn't mean we don't address issues and seek to grow... but the negativity is always there... and you can choose to dwell on the deficits... or you can learn to count blessings and find gratitude, joy, peace, .... and hope.

And it ALL has its own momentum... positive energy breeds optimism and hope.
Pessimistic poison breeds doubt, distrust, and discontentment.


This is the pursuit... can I find a life music that counters the consistent drumbeat of darkness?

That DARK symphony is NOT going away and the Malicious Maestro never takes a break... he loves the sound of human misery and sorrow. It is the soundtrack of hell and is constantly adding new cries and groans... I add to the echo too often as well.

There is only one place that combats the noise of negativity..... back to Colossians...

Colossians 3:12–17

[12] Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

God's Word is my only remedy... it adds the words to my prayers...  and perspective to my circumstances.

For example... when I re-read the highlighted opening to this blog in God's eternal view... it sounds like a lot of 1st world whining.... not the holy habit of winning.

It gets me to another day.... and helps me hang on until the clouds give way to sunshine.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Totally Amazing Year of the 2019 Briarwood Bass Team

update: Tucker and Grayson ended up being Back-to-Back National Champs on Kentucky Lake later in the summer, and  then in Jan 2020- BASS and Academy Sports honored them by having them fish in the BassMaster Classic in March 2020. Also JHL.TV was discontinued, but the episodes are available on the you tube channel: Winning Edges Fishing


No way I can capture all of the hard work and amazing stories of this state championship team.
I also don't have time to thank ALL the former anglers and boat captains who helped us grow to this point... the Turnblooms, the Jennings, the Jeters, the Flemmings, the Cale's, the Guthrie's.... and special individuals who helped us: Lance Coggins, Bill Cunningham, Nolen Vinson, Austin Luke, Jeff Davis, Stinson Slawson, Doyle Powell, Jimmy Houston, Pat Turner, Lisa Talmadge... and I have missed MANY!

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:5

I must start back to LAST MAY- 2018

May 6- 2018

The 2018 BCS BASS TEAM has a good state tournament at Smith Lake and the Lions rise to a 15th place finish in the ASABFA. The culmination of a really good year, the 7th season for the Briarwood Bass Team.

May 25, 2018

Our team got to work right away- I named Grayson Morris, Tucker Smith, and Chandler Holt team captains and they never slowed down! This team fished hours, and hours, and hours....

Chandler Holt and BCS grad, Jared Turnbloom (Univ. of Ala Fishing) won a local tournament at Lay Lake

June 6, 2018

One cool aspect of high school fishing is how many college anglers helped us out.

Grayson Morris and Zeke Gossett caught a huge bag at Lay Lake.

June 10, 2018

I have a goal of becoming a better boat captain... and I don't get a lot of opportunities- But I had a blast being a boat captain for Chandler Holt in an Airport Marine tournament on Lay Lake.

June 19, 2018

We started filming 'Winning Edges" and had no clue the big year that lay ahead!

BCS filmed the 1st ever episode of Winning Edges at Pickwick

June 27

Shimano helped BCS film more episodes of Winning Edges at Lake Caroline. I also loved that we were including expert anglers from other schools!

June 28
BCS broadcasting class got its first look at all of the footage for Winning Edges and felt almost overwhelmed with the task ahead

July 13

We pushed out the Winning Edges Trailer and we were excited to receive permission from Jordan Feliz to use his song, The River, for our show…. We were pumped!!

July 28

We resumed filming at Logan Martin, Lay Lake, Lake Caroline.... every show was hot but the film crew and anglers persevered. We had ALL kinds of issues- wind, heat, sound quality, video bouncing- and often the fish did not bite on camera though we killed them when not shooting!

We finish filming footage for six episodes of Winning Edges. Each episode gets better as we learn from many mistakes.

Aug 2, 2018

Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith finish in 5th place after Day 1 at Kentucky Lake. They are in the hunt for the BASS Mossy Oak High School National Championship

Aug 3

Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith make the 12 cut and begin day 3 for the National Championship in 3rd place. Former BCS angler JT Russell is their boat captain.

Aug 4

National Champions! The Briarwood team set the entire state of Alabama abuzz with the impressive 3 day total 50.2 lbs and blow away the competition on the final day!

August 9
Media, friends, family, and BASS officials pack a press conference at Briarwood to honor the new National Champions! For many weeks the two are mentioned in articles and stories about their great accomplishment!

August 18

Team and friends gather at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch Grayson and Tucker on ESPN.

August 25

Chandler Holt, Riley Underwood, Mason Wright, and Ian Davis take time to work with kids at the Briarwood Church Trail Life fishing expo at Oak Mountain State Park. I love when our guys give back!

September 18

The BCS graphics team creates the logo for Winning Edges

September 24

World famous angler, Jimmy Houston announces that Briarwood Christian School will have our own TV show on his network.

Tucker and Grayson spend the summer being a great representative for Hammer Rods. Other sponsors are showing interest.

Sept 27, 2018
Shimano invites Tucker and Grayson to Springfield, MO for the 2018 Hall of Fame induction of many anglers including Kevin Van Dam. The two attend Bass Pro and meet Johnny Morris and many other great contacts in the world of fishing.

Sept 28

On the way back from the Hall of Fame Dinner, Tucker and Grayson sign an endorsement agreement with Drake Performance fishing.

Oct 21

Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith won a 3rd place finish in the Airport Marine tournament at Smith Lake. They were less than a half pound out of 1st. There were over 100 boats in tourney.

These guys are beginning to grow in what it means to fish with expectations and notoriety... and they do it well!

Oct 23, 2018

Winning Edges TV goes live on JHL.TV and is an immediate hit

Oct 29

Episode 2 appears on JHL.TV

Episode 3 appears on JHL.TV


Nov 6

Winning Edges YouTube Channel goes live

Nov 15

Winning Edges the book goes live on Amazon.com

Nov 19

Episode 5 appears on JHL.TV


We also spent all fall fishing the District 3 fall trail

When Jordan Martens was sitting in 11th place in the King of the Coosa standings. I asked "Does that qualify as the Queen of the Coosa?"

Dec. 10

Episode 6 appears on JHL.TV

Dec. 15

It was a big day for BCS senior, Mason Wright who came in 4th place in the King of the Coosa at Lay Lake. Mason has had a great career and will be a big part of our team this spring! Congrats to Jordan Martens for finishing 13th for the ENTIRE FALL and all of the BCS anglers and boat captains for fishing in TOUGH conditions. Next for us are the team events in the spring.

Notice what I wrote that day

“This was quite a nice day for Riley Underwood and Mason Wright. Mason finished 4th for today and Riley finished 27th for the entire FALL trail. This will be a tough team in the spring!”

And now it looks like I was a prophet!

Dec. 26

Shimano gave us a social media shout out to Winning Edges


Jan 5

Tucker and Grayson came in  2nd place. 17.28 lbs. $500 and $1,750 per year each scholarship money to Faulkner Univ @ Lake Mitchell Airport Marine

Jan 7

Elite Pro, Randy Howell plugs the Winning Edges book on his social media

Jan 16

We officially begin season 2 of Winning Edges

Jan 17

Jimmy Houston gives a new video plug of Winning Edges


Jan 31

Coach Curtis Gossett speaks to the BCS bass team

Feb 2

Tucker and Grayson get it done with an Airport Marine 4th place finish that also moved them into 2nd for angler of the year points!

Feb 7

Grayson becomes the 3rd college angler from BCS, but he is the first to SIGN on signing day

 Congrats to BCS senior, Grayson Morris, for signing a bass scholarship with the University of Montevallo yesterday. Grayson had quite a 2018- TWO wins including the BassMaster National Championship, a 2nd place finish,Two 3rd place finishes, and THREE top 20's. He still has a senior spring and summer to go!

Feb 7

Jimmy Houston puts out another video about Winning Edges. It is having an amazing response on JHL.TV

Feb 9
BCS had a great TEAM WIN

The team finished 1st in the ASABFA Regional at Lake Martin, our 1st tournament of the 2019 team season. Great job Lions!

Feb 26

BCS Bass team featured in Birmingham Christian magazine


March 5

Congrats to Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith for All-State recognitions by B.A.S.S. - this is one tremendous honor for these guys!

March 6

With an hour left in our tournament Grayson and Tucker had 3 fish and decided to make a move to go catch a limit and ended up catching the limit and even getting a 13th place finish out of 200 boats..

March 8

National Championship rings come in

March 9

Jordan and Sadie win tournament with 19.22. Team wins 2nd tournament in a row.

March 14- 18

Tucker and Grayson participate in the Bassmaster Classic including the Night of Champions and a great finish (4th place) in the Classic Tournament. Grayson and Tucker got the full classic experience: They worked the Drake Performance booth at the expo, weighed in fish on the classic stage, did a Drake photo shoot, and then Grayson announced a partnership with Livingston Lures. Our bass team training is NOT just fishing... you better know how to serve your sponsors and represent well in public. Proud of our team!

March 15

Coach Mathews participates in a dinner with Jimmy Houston, Bill Dance, and Hank Parker were gracious with their time and kindness.

March 20

Coach Mathews goes on nationwide I-heart radio with Misty Wells show to discuss BCS Bass Team and Winning Edges

March 22

We had a great time at Marks Outdoors Pro Day. Thanks to Aaron Martens for showing us some lure specifics!

March 26

Grayson and Tucker get the Triton they won at the National Championship/…. finally

March 28

Coach Mathews episode with Jimmy Houston "Fishing Coach" aired on CBS Sports, the Pursuit Channel, and the World Fishing Network for the week.

March 30

Tucker and Grayson take over BASS Instagram and followed by thousands

April 8

Grayson and Tucker are part of a national video promotion for Drake Performance fishing

April 18

Briarwood Bass Team now has an All-American! Congrats to Tucker Smith for being chosen as one of 12 anglers in the nation to be recognized as All-American



Aaron Martens spoke to Bass Club on April 18

Friday,April 19- 
ASABFA meetings and we had a good dinner together

Sat April 20

We win at Pickwick with a 1st, 3rd, and 5th place finish- our best team finish ever and our 3rd team win in a row. Mason and Riley won and Chandler and David finished 3rd. The girls came in 5th.

April 28

Tucker and Grayson place 4th in the B.A.S.S. Nation tournament on Martin




All the seniors got Hammer rods

Grayson ASABFA Scholarship Winner

David Scharf- Presidential ASABFA Scholarship

Jordan and Sadie- Winning Boat at Eufaula

Riley and Mason- Winning Boat at Pickwick
Chandler and David - 3rd Place!



We did have a good lead going into this final tournament- but every team behind us came in with big bags- we had a great day 1 and actually INCREASED our lead

I was in the hotel room calculating points as the day 1 weigh ins were coming in


IT WAS A CRAZY DAY- rain, a small tornado, a boat-police car wreck.... The Underwood/Wright  dodging downed power lines and an empty gas tank to make the weigh in!


Even though the ASABFA does not recognize and individual boat of the year- Mason and Riley easily won the overall points- and we had 3 boats in top 20- that is great consistency!

The biggest key? See the random example below of how we communicated.......



The Briarwood Bass team completed the 2019 season by winning the ASABFA State Championship. The championship is determined by a point system calculated by finishes in three regional tournaments and then a 2 day Classic. Briarwood had three regional first place finishes and a second place classic finish which clinched the overall state championship. No other bass team in state history has won three consecutive regional tournaments, it was indeed a record setting year for the Lions. The team was started at BCS 8 years ago by Coach Jay Mathews. The team has had an amazing year including an individual national championship, All-American recognition, All-state recognitions, college scholarships, national TV appearances, their own fishing show, "Winning Edges" on the Jimmy Houston network, and a fishing handbook, Winning Edges, that is available at Amazon.com.

Regional Wins
Lake Martin Feb. 9, 2019
Lake Eufaula March 9, 2019
Pickwick Lake April 20, 2019

2nd Place: Classic at Lake Jordan May 3/4, 2019

Briarwood Student Anglers
Ian Davis
Chandler Holt
Jordan Martens
Reid Mays
Carson McKeen
Carson Miller
Grayson Morris
David Scharf
Tucker Smith
Sadie Stanford
Riley Underwood
Mason Wright

Coach Jay Mathews

Briarwood Boat Captains

Jimmy Butler
Jeff Davis
Keith Davis
Joe Durham
Robert Holt
Aaron Martens
Amory Mays
Scott McKeen
Jason Miller
Clay Morris
JT Russell
Brian Scharf
Drayton Smith
Jamie Spence
Robbey Stanford
Scott Underwood
Michael Wright

Going into next year

Grayson and Tucker still are up for Anglers of the Year for BASS!
They will defend their National Championship in August

Coach Curtis Gossett will become the NEW head coach of the Briarwood Bass Team

Coach Mathews will become Sponsor and Assistant

We expect Winning Edges to continue......

This is only the beginning.......