Inaugural Hannah Bates Memorial Bass Fishing Tournament sees huge turnout


Organizers and a few of the participants pose for a photo at Saturday’s inaugural Hannah Bates Memorial Bass Fishing Tournament at Smith Lake Park. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

TRIMBLE – Saturday was a special and emotional day for the Bates family as 13 teams on 13 boats hit Smith Lake to compete in the inaugural Hannah Bates Memorial Bass Fishing Tournament. All proceeds from the tournament are going toward the newly established Hannah Bates Memorial Scholarship at Wallace State Community College. The scholarship will be offered each year to students in the Fast Track, Business Management or Nursing Programs. The first $500 scholarship will be awarded for the fall 2018 semester.

Bates, 21, was killed in an ATV crash at Stony Lonesome OHV Park in February 2018.

Hannah’s mother, Sonya Bates, was moved to see her daughter’s memory make a positive impact, especially through an activity that Hannah loved.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to do something in her honor. So, Jayclyn (Nail) and I came up with the bass fishing tournament because Hannah really loved to fish,” Sonya Bates said. “All the proceeds are going towards the scholarship fund at Wallace and we’re just hoping to get Hannah’s story out there, honor her memory and help other people.”

Sonya and her family didn’t have a particular number of boats in mind and were just thrilled to see so many come out to support them Saturday morning.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s just a wonderful feeling,” she said. “Going into this we didn’t know what to expect. This morning we got here, and the boats just kept coming in and it was just great. We’ve gotten so much support from the community and we feel so much support and love from everyone.”

Hannah’s friend Jayclyn Nail was also excited to see the turnout and is looking forward to seeing this event grow in the future

“We’re just really glad that everyone came out today. We’re looking forward to next year; we’ll have the second annual tournament and hopefully continue to do it every year and grow bigger and bigger,” Nail said. “Hannah’s purpose was to make everybody else around her happy and we’re just trying to get the community together today and that’s what we want to do in the future. We want to get everybody involved and just make it bigger and bigger in her name.”

Tournament results (teams)

First place, $500 – Morris & Miller, 16.20 pounds – Big Fish, 3.68 pounds

Second place, $100 – Whitworth & Roberts, 7.64 pounds

Third place, $50 – Drain & Gehring, 5.93 pounds

For information about the scholarship or to make donations to the fund, visit or call 256-352-8144. Donations to the Hannah Bates Memorial Scholarship may also be mailed the Future Foundation at PO Box 568, Hanceville, AL 35077.

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