As planned, Chickamauga resident Mason Sims accompanied the United States youth fly-fishing team as an observer for the world championships in Ireland lasl week.
Not as planned, the 15-year-old Gordon Lee High School sophomore got to participate — for Scotland.
His points were unofficial, but had they counted he would have been tied for second individually while the United States won the team championship.
“I went over there to watch my team, and almost out of the blue they said we need you to fish as a stand-in,” Sims said Wednesday. “They told me my points wouldn’t count, but I kept up with them anyway.”
Sims qualified for the 12-angler national team in April, but each country could send six to the world event, with five officially taking part. Sims knew from the start that he would not be active for the U.S. this year, but he’s hoping to be on the competition squad at the 2014 world championships in Poland.
While he was looking forward to watching his teammates go for the gold, he felt the way things turned out was an even better learning experience.
“The best thing about me getting to fish as a stand-in was that it gave me confidence to know I could do well in a world-championship setting,” Sims said. “There were a lot of really good fishermen there, and to know I fished as well as them or better really boosted my confidence.”
It likely boosted his standing in the eyes of U.S. team officials as well.
“I can’t speak for them, but I think they saw I can do the job,” Sims said.
<em>Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.</em>