SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Benedictine’s Michael Ortman is living many people’s dream: the Cadet senior is heading to Emmanuel College on a bass fishing scholarship.
“I’m pretty excited because I never thought I would be here at this point,” Ortman said. “It’s just amazing to able to be in this spot right now and to be blessed by God and by the people around me.”
Ortman started the Cadets’ bass fishing program as a club team when he was a sophomore. The sport was officially sanctioned by the Georgia High School Association in the 2020-2021 school year.
He says fishing began as a hobby, but as a 7th grader he tried a tournament, caught five fish, and was hooked.
Ortman is the first Cadet and the first fisherman from Savannah to earn a college scholarship for bass fishing. He explained his sport’s difficulty for us in football terms.
“I would compare it to Tom Brady down by 28 in the third quarter. You just have to be able to sit out there even though it might not be going your way, and just keep grinding at it and do something different. It’s brutal sometimes,” he says. “I know we were out there two months ago when it was 38 degrees and pouring down rain and I just wanted to go inside and be in the warm weather, so it’s just tough sometimes.”
Ortman’s future coach at Emmanuel, Pam Wells, says there are only 17 colleges in the United States that offer bass fishing scholarships. Only two of those 17 are in Georgia.
Wells feels the Cadet will be a great addition to the Lions’ program.
“People don’t realize it truly takes a deep passion for this sport to have the correct kind of dedication that it takes,” Wells said in a release . “He showed that, and his Christian background, his GPA. Everything about Michael fit Emmanuel and fit the type of person that we want at Emmanuel College as well as on the Bass team. He was a perfect fit.”
The GHSAs first state bass fishing championship will be held May 8 at Lake Lanier.