Reprinted with permission by The Cullman Times

Sonya Bates wasn’t sure what to expect when the sun rose Saturday on the first-ever memorial fishing tournament named in her late daughter’s honor. But once the fish were caught, the boats ashore, and the winners named, she knew her family’s goal of growing the contest into a yearly event could come true.

Thirteen boats turned out at Smith Lake Park for the first annual Hannah Bates Memorial Bass Fishing Tournament, with the two-man team of Jeff Miller and Brian Morris taking home the contest’s $500 top prize.

“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Sonya. “I just didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t know if there’d be one boat or thirty boats. We’re really grateful to everyone for turning out the way that they have, and we’re planning to do this annually.”

Funds raised through the tournament will endow a newly-established scholarship fund for an eligible Fast Track, Business Management, or Nursing student at Wallace State Community College.

 Hannah Bates passed away following an ATV accident earlier this year. The 21 year-old had earned an early associate’s degree at Wallace State through the Fast Tack program, and was planning to continue her education at the time of her passing.

The Hannah Bates Memorial Scholarship will be offered each year to students in the Fast Track, Business Management or Nursing program at Wallace State. The recipient will be selected based on financial need and an essay about how they’ve overcome adversity and obstacles in their life. The first $500 scholarship will be awarded for the upcoming Fall 2018 semester.

For information about the scholarship or to make donations to the fund, visit or call 256.352.8144. Donations to the Hannah Bates Memorial Scholarship also may be mailed to the Future Foundation at PO Box 568, Hanceville, AL 35077.