Advance Auto Parts Adds Bassmaster Elite Pro Greg Hackney to 2008 Pro Staff

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., has joined the pro staff team of Advance Auto Parts, a BASS sponsor and a leading retailer of automotive aftermarket parts, batteries, accessories and maintenance items.

Advance Auto Parts officials said that Elite pros Marty Stone and John Crews are Hackney’s fellow pro staff members on the company’s 2008 team.

“In keeping with our goal to become the preferred auto parts store of the bass fishing community and outdoor industry, we feel the addition of Greg strengthens the team and brings credibility to our brand,” said Samuel R. Hampton, director of marketing for Advance Auto Parts. “There is no disputing his performance on the water during the past several years.”

Among Hackney’s recent accomplishments are securing a berth in the 2008 Bassmaster Classic, Feb. 22-24 out of Greenville, S.C., and two top-10 finishes in 2007 Elite Series events.

“I feel like I’m where I need to be and with a company I can really grow with,” Hackney said. “Advance Auto Parts is a totally new sponsorship for me, and I believe it suits me well — not to mention the new camouflage look they’ve given me suits me better than any I’ve had in the past. It fits my personality.”

Hackney was referring to the trim on his Advance Auto Parts boat wrap and tournament shirts for the 2008 season. A camo design adds a new dimension to the Advance Auto Parts signature yellow logo against a red background.

Advance Auto Parts officials said the company’s sponsorship of BASS events will continue in 2008 with a strong presence at the Classic as well as lakeside exhibits at each Elite Series tournament.

The main promotional focus this year will be a truck giveaway at the end of the tournament season.

SIX STUDENTS WIN COSTA DEL MAR/BASS CONSERVATION SCHOLARSHIPS. Premium polarized sunglass brand Costa Del Mar and BASS announced today that five students won a total of $42,000 in awards through the 2007-2008 Costa Del Mar/BASS Conservation Scholarship Program. The award is designed to support future natural-resources professionals.

Four undergraduates received $2,000 annual scholarships: Corey Carver of Wallace State in Alabama; David Henley of Austin Peay State in Tennessee; Miles Miller of Johnson County Community College in Kansas; and Justin Brewer of New York’s Finger Lakes Community College/SUNY Cobleskill. If each student remains eligible for four years, he will receive a total of $8,000.

Matthew VanLandeghem, 22, a first-year graduate student at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., won a $5,000 annual scholarship to complete his master’s of science degree in natural resources and environmental science, fish and wildlife ecology. He’ll receive $5,000 this year and another $5,000 next year if he remains eligible.

“I’d like to work as a fisheries biologist or perhaps in freshwater conservation management,” said VanLandeghem of Batavia, Ill., an avid tournament angler who belongs to two clubs: the BASS Federation Nation’s Champaign-Urbana BASS Club and the Fighting Illini BASS Club, a college team.

The next round of applications for the Costa Del Mar/BASS Conservation Scholarship Program will be accepted beginning May 1. Students will be able to access applications online at http://www.Bassmaster.com.

To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must be seeking a degree in the natural resources field. An applicant also must be a BASS member and belong to the BASS Federation Nation or have an immediate family member who belongs to the BASS Federation Nation.

“This is our second year to sponsor the Costa Del Mar/BASS Conservation Scholarship Program, and it’s part of our mission to help give more opportunities to future natural-resources professionals,” said Chas MacDonald, president of Costa Del Mar. “These students are the next generation of fisheries biologists and ecologists, so we want to help them receive the best education possible.”

NEXT GENERATION. JVD wants to follow in KVD’s footsteps.

KVD is, of course, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kevin VanDam, a two-time Bassmaster Classic champion and three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year. JVD is Jonathan VanDam, KVD’s nephew. Both are from Kalamazoo, Mich.

Tall and fair like his famous uncle, 19-year-old JVD is a college student and aspiring career angler who took a third-place finish last week at the Bassmaster Southern Open on the St. Johns River out of Palatka, Fla.

“I’ve placed higher in a lot events, but this is definitely the biggest event that I’ve done so well in, and definitely the most I’ve won,” JVD said.

He earned a check for almost $20,000 at the St. Johns event, his pro debut.

It was on the Southern Open weigh-in stage that most fishing fans first heard the young VanDam’s nickname. Later he explained that JVD is not a hand-me-down from his uncle.

“I’ve been called that for a long time,” he said. “All my friends call me that.”

An avid angler who has competed in local and regional events for years, he had his first taste of BASS competition in July 2006, when he traveled with his uncle for back-to-back Elite events in New York, where the younger VanDam competed as a co-angler. The next summer he repeated the trip and scored his best co-angler performance, fifth place.

JVD is a second-semester freshman at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he is studying business and finance. He plans to continue his education while he develops his fishing career through the Southern Open circuit this year.

“I’m definitely looking toward fishing as a career,” he said. “That’s been my dream forever.”

Watch for at least two more fishing stars to emerge from Kalamazoo. JVD has two younger cousins who want to compete professionally, too. The boys’ last name isn’t VanDam, but they have the genes and angling heritage, just like JVD.

“My uncle’s definitely taught me a lot, but it’s my grandfather and dad who have taught me the most,” he said.

His grandfather, Dick VanDam, drove from his winter home in Florida to Palatka to watch JVD weigh in. JVD’s father (KVD’s brother) is Randy VanDam, owner of D&R Sports, a 35-year-old outdoor store in Kalamazoo. Randy is also a well-known and accomplished angler.

CLASSIC SECURITY. “Making the Classic is very important every year, and there is some security in already being in it. But last year I was just trying to get my feet on the ground — it was my first season on the Elites.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro and 2007 Bassmaster Classic champion Boyd Duckett of Demopolis, Ala., who automatically qualified for the 2008 Classic, Feb. 22-24 in Greenville, S.C., through his 2007 win.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.Bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.