Lee University recently signed Blaze Benton to its fly fishing team, Lee Anglers. Family, friends, and fellow team members gathered in Walker Arena in support of the team's newest addition.
"Blaze Benton is an extremely talented and gifted athlete," said Dr. Guy DeLoach, Lee Anglers coach and associate professor of business at Lee. "His fly fishing skills are some of the best we have seen in a young man coming out of high school. We are fortunate to have him on the team, and he will assist us in moving our program forward."
Benton is a Cleveland local and graduate of Bradley Central High. He began fly fishing four years ago during his freshman year of high school. Benton has traveled across the United States to places such as Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and North Carolina while honing his skill.
"I am very thankful to be a part of such an incredible team," said Benton. "I look at the next four years as an excellent opportunity to grow in Christ, to represent Lee through the amazing sport of fly fishing, and hopefully expand the team in ways that will benefit it years after I have been on it."
The university created their fly fishing program in spring 2014 in conjunction with the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF). DeLoach heads the program.
"Blaze is an incredible addition to our team and Lee University," said Chachi Avirett, Lee Anglers assistant coach and director of TRAIL Ministries, a local outdoor discipleship ministry. "He is humble, hilarious, and an avid fly fisher that brings out the best in others. He is young, but he is already showing a talent level that way surpasses his age."
According to DeLoach, Lee's fly fishing team continues to expand in popularity on campus. Over 130 students have attended the introductory fly fishing class and intermediate class, with several going on to compete on the team.
"For the 2018-19 academic year we are expecting the team to excel both on and off the water," said DeLoach. "We have matches scheduled this year with Penn State, UTK, Western Carolina, and several other regional universities."
Lee Anglers went undefeated in 2017 and only one loss in the 2018 spring season. The team is sponsored by several of the sport's leading companies such as COSTA sunglasses, Orvis, Redington, Sage, SIMMS, and Winston Rods.
Off the water, the team will be conducting several service projects for TRAIL ministries and "Casting for Hope," a cancer research foundation.
For more information about Lee University's fly fishing program and team, contact DeLoach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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