The Kansas BASS Nation will be under new — but familiar — leadership this upcoming season, with former youth director Richard Heflin voted in Nov. 7 as the organization's new president.
Heflin, 49, of Topeka, ran unopposed to replace Joel Porter, of Yates Center, after stepping away from the youth director position in the fall of 2019. That position was filled by Travis Burch, of Linn Valley.
One of the main issues concerning statewide clubs that Heflin wants to focus on is a lack of communication within the KBN.
"One of the things that we're gonna do is we're actually going to increase our communication with our clubs out there across the state," Heflin said. "One of the things I've talked to the board about ... I've told them I want to start doing a State of the Union-type of message to the clubs at least on a quarterly basis to say 'OK, here's what we've got going on, here's what we've done, here's what we're thinking of doing.' "
As the former youth director, Heflin knows the importance of retaining the young anglers who are currently fishing in the youth, high school and college ranks to continue fishing on the adult side, especially as the field of youth anglers has grown exponentially in recent years while the adult side hasn’t seen much growth. He said high school anglers don’t even have to wait until they’re out of school to start fishing against adult competition.
"At the age of 16, youths can fish the adult events," Heflin said. "We're hoping that working with Travis and Danny, we can provide some incentives for those kids that are part of a high school club that maybe want to fish some adult events to go ahead and establish an adult club so they can fish both sides. Maybe they don't even have to join an existing adult club until they get out of high school."
Heflin said the KBN also would be looking to increase participation, add more capabilities to pay dues online, do more via social media and bring in more sponsors under his leadership.
The other four candidates for officer positions this fall also ran unopposed. Longtime treasurer Larry Brumley, of Topeka, decided to step away from his position this fall, with Iola’s Rich Muhl selected to fill the spot. Salina’s Dell Mettlen Jr. was elected the new conservation director, filling the seat vacated by Ellis’ Steve Hausler. Jayce Newell, of Damar, was elected social media director, while Nickerson’s Danny Barrett was re-elected as tournament director.
The remaining members of the KBN board are Mike Turner, vice president; Brad VanRiette, secretary; Thomas Heinen, sponsorship director; and Burch as youth director.