Name: Shaye Baker (pictured at left)
Class: senior
Major: Spanish International Trade
Hometown: Reeltown, Ala.
Other interests: Hanging out with my friends and family and praising God.
Name: Dennis Parker (pictured at right)
Class: senior
Major: Building Science
Hometown: Prattville, Ala.
Other interests: I am taking up golf because of the importance of the game in business/construction, but once I get into the professional world I will be an advocate for changing business meetings on the green to business meeting on the water. I believe you can get closer to a client if he, or she, is stuck on a boat with you for 8-plus hours. I also am in the process of expanding some of the lures I make to start a new line of fishing lures.

School Web site: How were you introduced to fishing?

Three good fish from Auburn's Shaye Baker helped his team finish second.Baker: My dad has always fished and my first outing consisted of my sister and me sitting under the console in diapers drinking Kool-Aid and eating cookies. Somewhere along the way he handed me a rod and I spent a few years dragging a cork behind the boat or pestering him about catching every turtle I spotted on a log. Then one day he finally got me to put the brim rod down and pick up a bait-caster and I haven’t looked back since.

Parker: My father was an outdoorsman in college, but my cousins were the ones that had the most influence on my love for fishing when I was young (5-8), but we moved away from them and I had to hold on to that love mostly on my own. I would walk, or ride my bike miles to a small pond, or creek to fish all day. I would watch every fishing show I could to teach myself more about bass fishing, but it wasn’t until a friend gave me a little john-boat that my passion took off. I had two batteries, a 24-pound thrust trolling motor, and a little depth finder that I used to explore every small lake, pond, and river that I could get into. It wasn’t until I helped start the AU Bass Club that I met Anthony Goggins – remember that name as I’m sure that one day he’ll grace the pages of the FLW Outdoors magazine and the like. Goggins took we under his wing and taught me how to bass fish in the big lakes and in bass tournaments statewide. I owe a lot of my success to him taking the time to help me transition from an avid bass fisherman to where I am today. What style of fishing are you most comfortable with?

Baker: I love shallow-water fishing for largemouth bass.

Parker: Junk fishing. I have been a co-angler for the better part of three years, fishing in our club qualifiers and collegiate events. This past year I fished in the BFL Dixie League from the back of the boat and qualified for the BFL regional on Lake Seminole. Ultimately I had to decline a chance to fish in the BFL regional in order to fish the FLW College Fishing regional. Anyway, I have to say fishing from the back of the boat has forced me to learn to roll with whatever the boater is doing in order to catch fish too. I have had the honor of fishing with a lot of great boaters and I sure have learned a lot from them. Finally, I have to say that my greatest strength is my ability to find a way to catch fish no matter what opportunities/areas are in front of me. What did it feel like to qualify for the inaugural National Championship? How do you plan to prepare for the big event?

Baker: It feels great. I believe God has blessed my partner and me and given us an opportunity that we have only dreamed about – a chance to qualify for the 2010 Forest Wood Cup. I am going to make at least two trips to the lake and spend about 10 days up there. I have studied the map extensively and believe it will fish to my liking. I’m just ready to get up there.

Parker: This has been the best year of my life, and to qualify for this National Championship has been the icing on the cake! I will do my best to make as many trips as possible to the lake and learn as much as I can about the characteristics of this particular lake/river. Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people wouldn’t know.

Baker: I speak Spanish and love to travel. By all outward appearances I’m a simple country boy but I always liked Spanish coming up through high school. I dated a foreign exchange student for a few years and visited her in Ecuador. I fell in love with the country and traveling and have since been to France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. I would like to find a job with my degree working in international missions but we’ll just have to see where the Lord takes me.

A mighty 'WAR EAGLE' chant rang out from the stage, compliments of Dennis Parker and Shaye Baker.Parker: I think it’s that bass fishing means more to me than most people realize. I got into a little bit of trouble earlier in my life and bass fishing helped me to get me back on that straight and narrow path. Basically, bass fishing gave me a new appreciation for life. It’s helped me to gain focus and stay focused. In a lot of ways, bass fishing is spiritual for me. And hopefully one day, I’ll get to realize my dream and be able to fish with the pros.

By Gary Mortenson