ON SPORTS: Matagorda fishing tournament continues fight against cancer
May 30, 2012 at 12:30 a.m.
Updated May 31, 2012 at 12:31 a.m.
Shaun Hauser has fished for over half his life, but not in the way he has in the past year.
Hauser doesn't have a new boat, he hasn't bought a new rod and reel, and he isn't using different bait.
But Hauser is fishing with a purpose grounded in sorrow and fueled by determination.
Hauser can't count the times he traveled to Bay City to fish with his uncle Gary Krenek, who had a house on the Colorado River.
Krenek taught Hauser the ins and outs of fishing and turned it into a life-long passion.
Hauser was often accompanied by family friend and Blinn College buddy Travis Elliott.
The bond shared by Elliott and Hauser has grown beyond fishing. They have felt the anguish caused by cancer.
Elliott lost a grandparent to the disease and in March of 2011, Lisa Krenek, Hauser's aunt, died after battling breast cancer.
"I knew the struggle she went through," Hauser said. "When she passed, I really started to take this serious and started doing something about it."
Elliott provided the perfect outlet. Elliott's friends, Dirk Griffith and Shane Hahn, also lost a grandparent to cancer and they teamed up with Bay City's Cliff Roberts, Rick Reed and Eric Snyder to start the Texas Trio Classic - Fishin' for a Cure in 2008.
The tournament is named for Texas' three most prominent fish - the redfish, speckled trout and flounder.
The real purpose of the tournament is to raise money to fight cancer, which resonates with Hauser.
"It's a platform to come together for a good cause," he said. "It attracts people who don't have a lot of the same interests. It opens their eyes to something that is very real. Everybody knew me and my uncle, but they did not know the struggles my aunt went through. This brings it home. It's not about catching the biggest fish or the biggest stringer. It's about bringing people to the table to solve a bigger problem."
The tournament's growth has been phenomenal. The tournament drew 19 boats the first year, 27 the second year, 39 the third year and last year 62 teams participated.
Elliott and his friends donated proceeds from the tournament to the Matagorda County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Texas Children's Hospital and The Matagorda Wellness Foundation.
This year's tournament will kick off with a Calcutta on Friday, June 8 at The Fireman's Hall in Matagorda.
The fishing begins Saturday, June 9 in Matagorda Bay with the weigh-in scheduled for Matagorda Harbor from 1-5 p.m. with $11,000 in guaranteed winnings.
"The competitive edge is there," Hauser said. "It's got a big tournament feel, but also a down-home atmosphere where everybody knows each other. It started out small, but now it's a mainstream event. People fish hard. Last year, we ran two tanks of gas searching for fish. You have some of the finest fishermen on the Gulf Coast."
Hauser is looking forward to this year's tournament. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery in March.
Doctors are optimistic about her recovery, but Hauser is ready to take the fight against cancer to the water.
"I'll never miss another tournament unless I can't walk," he said. "I've felt enough pain from this and we need to do something. What can we do to help solve this issue? It's the great American willpower. Let's put this together and see what happens."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.