JASON YOUNG - 2021 HKB SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD RECIPIENT
Jason Young is proof that nice guys do, in fact, finish first.
Young was recently named Hoosier Kayak Bassin’s (HKB) inaugural Sportsman of the Year, an honor bestowed upon him by the men and women who make up Indiana’s kayak fishing community. When HKB decided to create an award that would showcase a special Indiana kayak fisherman, Young could have been the very definition they were looking for.
“When we created the Sportsman of the Year award, we wanted to honor someone who was not only an avid fisherman, but someone who was – more importantly – a great person,” said Sam Jones, HKB founder. “The criteria for this award are pretty simple … live in Indiana, fish a state series, impact the community or our natural resources in a positive way, and embody what it means to be a true sportsman.
“The people got it right this year. Jason is all of these things.”
If you know Young, you aren’t surprised he received this honor. The director of Indiana Kayak Anglers (IKA) is kind, caring, and supportive of all Hoosier kayak anglers. The 44-year old is married, has two children, and is a software engineer by day. When he’s not fishing, Young enjoys playing golf and spending time outdoors.
Young didn’t start IKA on his own< but is its most recognizable director. Under his direction, IKA has grown to be one of the top series in the state, and home to some of Indiana’s best anglers.
“Nathan Pickering formed Central Indiana Kayak Anglers, and I helped him out … then we decided to spread it out a bit, and renamed the club Indiana Kayak Anglers,” Young said. “IKA has always been a group run by more than one person. Along the way, directors have included myself, Nathan, Jameson Olson, Mike Densel, Joe Armstrong, Matt Gibson, and Jim Orr. (They are all) awesome dudes, and we’ve all worked really well together to make things happen for the organization.”
Although Young is the epitome of what the Sportsman of the Year should be, he was surprised by both his nomination and being selected as the 2002 recipient.
“I had no idea I had been nominated,” Young said. “It caught me completely off-guard. I was overwhelmed with both surprise and gratitude.”
Young recently experienced a couple of life-changing health scares that altered his outlook on life. After feeling tired and lacking energy, he saw a cardiologist who discovered and fixed, significant blockages in his Left Anterior Descending Artery – also known as The Widow Maker. A couple of stents later, and Young was feeling better and soon returned to a more normal life.
However, two years ago, Young started experiencing similar symptoms of fatigue and a lack of energy. Another trip to the cardiac cath lab discovered a much more serious blockage – a complete occlusion of the Widow Maker. Doctors discovered the cause of Young’s discomfort … a bicuspid aortic valve was not allowing proper blood flow around his heart. His cardiologist decided to replace the valve with a mechanical aortic valve, and Young underwent successful open heart surgery.
The experience has left a mark on him, and changed how he sees his life today.
“I’m more grateful for the many ‘moments’ that happen that, in the past, would have easily been forgotten or looked over,” Young said. “I find myself being more positive about things, dwelling less on the negative and even brushing the bad things off easier. It’s really changed my perspective on what’s important.”
Young’s focus will continue to be growing IKA and creating competitive events for Hoosier kayakers – and fishing when he can. A talented fisherman himself, he won the year’s first Grass Roots Bass Yakin (GRBY) Summit Lake series event, presented by Gittin Jiggy With It Bait and Tackle - by a whopping 23.50 inches – with a limit of 89.75 inches of largemouth bass, including a 20.50-inch beast.
“Jason has done so much for kayak fishing in the state of Indiana,” Jones said. “He’s created some big shoes to fill as we move forward with this award. I’m really pleased he was nominated by his peers, and I know he will continue to do the things that earned him this recognition. He’s just a great guy, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
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