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Toyota Team redefines 'team' sports

12/29/2006
Greg Hackney, along with the rest of the 2006 Toyota Tundra team, together amassed over $1.1 million in earnings over the course of the season. 

Scouring the World Wide Web for accurate definitions of "team sports," you are likely to stumble across no fewer than 132 pages of examples offered by Wikipedia.com. Among them are, of course, the typical sports we've come to know and love — such as bicycle polo and curling. Not surprisingly, bass fishing is notably absent. This should not come as a revelation given that bass fishing is a sport of singularity — angler vs. fish in its classic form.

However, in the arena of professional bass fishing — particularly where the Bassmaster Elite Series is concerned — there are, and have been for some time, teams of anglers formed for a variety of reasons — be it travel partners who share in the burdens associated with life on the road, or teams who are bound together as a result of their principal sponsor. By-and-large, bass fishing has never been thought of as a team sport … until now.

While not a team sport as recognized by Wikipedia.com, the Bassmaster tournaments have, through the years, benefited from several successful sponsor teams. Sponsors such as CITGO, Crown Royal, and Nitro Boats have, at one time, graced the weigh-in stage and were made up with some of the most recognizable names in the sport. Names like Peter Thliveros, Aaron Martens, Rick Clunn, Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam to name but a few have all been, or still are, aligned with a sponsor team.

While each team, and its subsequent members, has experienced a great degree of success, never before has a team achieved the level of success in a single season as did the 2006 Toyota Tundra team. "It was just unbelievable," team member Greg Hackney said of the 2006 season. "No team in the history of our sport has performed as well as the Toyota team did this year."

The 2006 Toyota Tundra team, consisting of Terry Scroggins, Mike Iaconelli, Greg Hackney, and Dave Wolak, together amassed over $1.1 million in earnings over the course of the season. In all, they combined for 24 Top-20 finishes, 15 Top-10 finishes, 9 Top-5 finishes, 3 wins and the crowning prize … the Angler of the Year award. 2006 was indeed a very good year for the members of the Toyota team, to say the least.

"And what's even more amazing is that we never collaborated — everyone did their own individual thing. The team just really got after it, and everyone fished their strengths. It just seemed like no matter what, at every tournament, one of us was able to catch them pretty good," said Dave Wolak.

To get a better understanding of their season, all you really had to do is look atop the leaderboard in nearly each of the events of the 2006 Bassmaster tournament lineup, starting with February's Bassmaster Classic at Lake Toho where Terry Scroggins finished fourth to get the season started.

From there, event-to-event, there was a Toyota team member somewhere near the top:

2006 Bassmaster Elite Series Team Toyota results

To each person on the team, the fact that there were 11 regular-season events peppered throughout the bulk of the year on some of America's best waters was the secret to their success. "This is the way it should be," Scroggins said. "Since I've been doing this, 2006 has been the best year by far. Everyone used to call (the Bassmaster schedule) the 'spring season.'"

"With 11 regular season events, the Tour events and the Majors spread out over the entire year, anglers have a chance to showcase all their talents."

As impressive as the year was, Hackney allows that the year's schedule and timing was pivotal in strong performance of the Toyota team. "This is just a really strong team, and everything just aligned so well this year," he said. "Each of the lakes on the schedule catered to at least one of our strengths."

"All in all though, the guys that make up the team are some of the most talented fishermen in the sport."
After a season as storied as 2006 for the Toyota Tundra team, 2007 looks to shape up as another run towards the history books. "Personally, I think 2007 is going to be even better than this year," he said.
"You know, it's impossible to know for sure, but as far as confidence goes, I'm pumped and can't wait to get out there."