Some colleges in America have their own special signature. Something that will draw a significant portion of the populace to their institution and one thing or another that makes it unique.
According to Morris Community High School graduates Joseph Tischer and Jacob Hicks, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville had one distinction in particular which drove them to the campus in southern Illinois.
“I did some independent research when I was looking for schools to go to and I heard that SIUE had a fishing team down there. But other than that, I didn’t know too much about it,” Hicks said. “Then I went down there and the school has about a 110-acre lake and the bass club there got permission to fish on it. It was right then that I felt that I could go down there, get a degree and to get the chance to go to where one of the best fisheries in the state was.”
Hicks made the decision to go to SUIE right after graduating from MCHS in 2009. In the meantime, Tischer had two years to weight his options as he elected to go to Joliet Junior College in that time before determining what four-year school to transfer to. Most of what Tischer found out about SIUE, he got from his high school friend Hicks.
“Jake Hicks has been there all four years now. He’s the one who told me all about it,” Tischer said. “He was kind of doing what I wanted to do and that was to go to a school with a good fishing program.”
“We went ice fishing, I think in 2010, and we did good that day,” Hicks said. “While we were fishing, he kept asking me questions about SIUE and what it was like to fish competitively in college. In the end, both of us went down to school there because of the fishing program.”
While both Tischer and Hicks had been toting a fishing pole most all of their lives, the competitive aspect to the sport wasn’t always at the forefront. Though high schools in Illinois now have the chance to compete as an activity, that program was started right at the end of their respective high school days.
“Everyone in my family fishes. I was two years-old when I started. My dad’s (Stan) the fishing coach in Minooka … I just didn’t get the chance to get into it (competitively) until last year,” Tischer said.
Hicks started fishing competitively right away at SIUE, having mixed success, before Joe and he teamed up this year.
“I asked Joe about it and we decided to do the FLW circuit and to try and qualify for tournaments,” Hicks said. “We’ve turned out to be a pretty good team.”
Just last month, both Hicks and Tischer finished 14th as a team at the FLW Central Conference event held on Kentucky Lake. By virtue of their four bass catch of 9-5, the two earned the right to take their game to the next level — that being the FLW College Central Conference Invitational Tournament held at the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan this coming weekend.
“The top 15 teams advanced to the conference championships, that’s the tournament that starts on the 27th,” Tischer said. “Teams that finish 10th or better there, get to keep fishing. They are the All-Americans and go to the national tournament. Me and Jake are excited about it.”
Hicks said that getting the chance to fish as an All-American would be quite a way for them to end their collegiate careers.
“It would be awesome,” he said. “I stopped playing sports in junior high school, so this would be my biggest accomplishment ever.”
Right up there with also getting a Special Education degree from SIUE — the other reason both Hicks and Tischer chose to get a degree there.
“They also have a great special education program there,” Tischer said. “That’s been perfect, too. Everything is all fit very well there.”