By Pamela A. Keene
When he was 11 or 12 years old, his grandfather Billy Kerlin would take Noah Pescitelli to catfish ponds near Lawrenceville. Young Noah’s knack for always snagging a fish didn’t seem like too much more than a boy and his grandfather enjoying time together, at least not in those days.
Today the 18-year-old Noah is one of the top anglers on the national high school fishing circuit and he’s just landed one of the biggest catches of all – athletic and academic scholarships to Savannah College of Art and Design. As the first male scholarship angler to sign for the 2016-17 school year, Noah, his family and about four dozen friends, relatives and representatives of the competitive fishing world gathered at the Buford Community Center Town Park and Theatre to witness the big day in mid-November.
“I love the excitement of competitive fishing,” said Noah, who has been fishing competitively for the past two years and has been a member of the Mill Creek High School fishing team, an outgrowth of the school’s fishing club, which he started. “Bass fishing is much more fast-moving than people think.”
SCAD’s head fishing coach Isaac Payne had his eye on Noah for a while. Payne, a Marine and recent graduate of SCAD’s industrial design program, started the school’s club in 2013 with an eye toward creating a collegiate team. He teaches design at the college’s Savannah campus and uses 3-D technology to create fishing lures.
“We’re building the first collegiate fishing team in Georgia, with a 6-member women’s team and a 6-member men’s team,” he said. “Noah is our first men’s team member to sign; earlier this year we signed Laura Ann Foshee of Alabama to our women’s team.” Payne said that SCAD is adding two other collegiate sports with the 2016-17 academic year: cycling and bowling.
“The love of fishing is very profound and it’s a way to allow more access to college education by offering scholarships to these athletes,” he said. “And having a team will also give our design, gaming and video majors a chance to create projects and work with our teams, so it’s a win for everyone.”