By R. Alan Richardson
Cole Holloway becomes the second Morgan County High School bass fisherman to ink a fishing scholarship over the past two weeks. Following his fishing partner’s (Ryan Thomas – Montavallo University) lead, the 18-year-old senior made the decision to attend Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs to pursue his lifelong goal of becoming a professional bass fisherman like his father, Mark.
Emmanuel Fishing Coach Pam Wells commented on Cole, “We go through a big process in our recruiting looking at everything from school to community to fishing ability. Cole got one of the highest recommendation marks and that didn’t come just from my research. It came from his peers, other competitors and even other parents that recommended Cole. That’s a big testament to Mark and Meredith (Holloway-parents) to the way they have raised Cole and the way he handles himself on and off the stage. Everybody knows he’s a great angler. We are looking forward to having him as a part of the team.”
Wells is no stranger to bass fishing. According to Cole’s father Mark, she was one of the first female anglers to ever fish professionally. He said, “Coach Wells knows the struggles you go through as a fisherman. I knew who she was before college coaching. She’s the real deal, not just a figurehead and somebody scheduling tournaments.”
According to Wells, who came and attended the scholarship signing at MCHS this past week, the Emmanuel program is in their second year of existence. The inaugural season was cut short after only one tournament due to restrictions put on the programs by Covid-19. This second season will actually be the first full season if everything goes as planned. She said, “We’ve put together a pretty good team (28 anglers) with young men from Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, and possibly Wisconsin. These are crazy times. It’s put a strain on everybody from the kids to the institutions. We just want to keep them safe and still allow them to pursue their dreams.” One major difference the Coach mentioned between the high school and college trails is that the anglers will drive their own boats and will not be chaperoned by an adult boat captain. In her mind, that is a BIG STEP and major change that the freshmen will have to adjust to.
Cole was asked about his decision to attend Emmanuel. He told us, “I chose them because it is one of the best fishing schools I know and have heard of. I know a lot of people going there. The anglers seemed more important to Coach Wells than at other places. She’s a really good coach and does a good job. She’s a jam-up coach. I like her a lot.” The soon freshman-to-be plans on pursuing a degree in business, but his dream is to become a professional fisherman. If that doesn’t work out, he plans on working in the fishing industry. “Business can help you in a lot of ways. All of my teachers supported me and congratulated me on our tournaments, but my business and marketing teacher Mrs. (Katie) Harris, really kept up with it. I was with her in classes all four years. She and her class impacted me. She cared about each of her students and followed their track record outside of class. It didn’t matter if it was basketball, tennis, or fishing. Mrs. (Mikki) Edwards (Principal at MCHS) and Coach (Doug) Connelly really helped us out a lot too. Coach would allow us to miss days as an athletic event when we missed one or two days to prefish a tournament. That was big because you can only exempt your exams if you miss under a certain number of days.”
Holloway was a member of the inaugural Morgan County Fishing Team three years ago. He partnered with his lifelong friend, Zach Smith, during that first year. He says the two friends put a lot of effort into the formation of a fishing team for the high school and had been planning it since they were young.
So, where did the journey for Cole Holloway’s ‘fishin’ addiction’ begin? Look no further than his Dad, Mark, for the answer. “My Dad was a professional angler back in the day. I would go with him to his tournaments, watch it on TV, go to practice rounds and fish with him. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Back when I was young I fell in love with fishing,” he said.
Mark chimed in telling us some more of the family’s fishing tree history. “I went to Berry on a baseball scholarship and got an education degree. I went into coaching and teaching. It was a dream job that I loved, but I’d always wanted to try and pursue a career in fishing as a professional. I was the baseball coach and offensive coordinator at Alexander, but I wasn’t getting any younger. So, I quit my job and went pro to give it a real go. Meredith and I didn’t have any kids when I started and I traveled the country chasing the dream. It’s tough. You don’t have that steady paycheck like teaching, there were no cell phones at the time, and then Cole came along shortly after that. It’s not the job for a married man I found out. I fished full-time for six years and another several locally within the state, but today you gotta be a social networking wizard to succeed. That’s not me.”
He continued, “When Cole was five or six years old we were fishing team tournaments together. It’s what he wanted to do from a young age. I see fishing like any other sport. If you have some talent, which he does, and you put in the work and effort, you can be successful. He fishes all day every day trying to improve. He played sports growing up, but when he got to high school he just wanted to fish. I was always into sports. Fishing is a way for us to be together. If he’d played piano, I would have learned how to do that and coached him. It’s something he’s passionate about. If not for fishing, he might not be going to college. It’s not that he’s a bad student. He’d just rather be working with me and fishing. Cole has never given us not one second of problems. We’ve had zero
issues with him so we’re pretty proud of him. We want him to have opportunities. It just so happens that fishing is providing that opportunity for him.”
Cole added, “My mom has supported me too. She’s
always going to tournaments and traveling to support us, doing all the paperwork, and giving me encouragement. My grandparents (Ray and Sandra Holloway) have also been there all the way.
I couldn’t have done this without all of them.”