Kids’ joy the real catch

Big-time anglers and big-money payouts are undeniable features of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
When you’re coming from as far away as Texas and Tennessee to compete in Northwestern Ontario’s most lucrative fishing tournament, you’re not going to show up packing a canepole and rubber dinghy.
Yet, with $136,000 in prize money available and roughly $3 million in boats, boating equipment, and sponsorship floating on Rainy Lake during the tournament, it’s fascinating that the most valuable commodity during the week is free of charge.
It’s the smiles of those young anglers who cast their lines in Sunday’s annual Kid-Pro tournament, which serves as a precursor to the big derby that begins tomorrow.
All the fish finders, fancy rods, and high-priced Aqua-Vu’s are nowhere near the treasures that the sparks of excitement that blazed in many an eye at the Sorting Gap Marina docks were.
The area was filled with the hum of numerous tales being enthusiastically told and re-told about the one that got away—and the other ones that didn’t.
Professional anglers elicited warm thank-yous and appreciative handshakes from their youthful protégés for the fishing advice, the positive feedback, and, of course, the free fishing treats.
Everything from caps and T-shirts to tackle and lures exchanged hands, and the adults appeared to be having as much pleasure giving the gifts as the kids did receiving it.
The long-term viability of an event lies mainly in its capacity to look to the future. And the creation of the Kid-Pro tournament by the FFCBC’s board of directors epitomizes that style of forward thinking.
By nurturing the grassroots of fishing at the youth level, tournament officials are sowing the seeds for generations of anglers to take root in the area that will be the backbone of the tournament for years to come.
• • •
A large-scale salute to local golfer Chrissy Thomson for coming through to win the Manitoba Women’s Amateur Golf Championship—an unprecedented achievement for someone from the Fort Frances area.
The 20-year-old keeps getting better and better, advancing from a top-flight junior player to becoming part of the St. John’s Red Storm ladies’ golf team—the first-ever such squad from the Queens, N.Y. school competing in the Big East Conference of the NCAA.
While her talent on the links is impressive enough, it’s her dignified demeanor that puts her above the crowd. Thomson’s ego has never consumed her to the point where she thinks her athletic achievements rates her special status in society.
Whether it’s in interviews or just in passing on the street, Thomson exhibits a genuine kindness that will serve her well not only in golf, but in life.
Simply put, this past weekend’s victory couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Here’s hoping there’s an LPGA roster spot with her name on it somewhere down the road.
Remember, Lorie Kane was just some unknown girl from Charlottetown at one time, too.
• • •
Not to be unpatriotic, as I was happy as anyone that Vancouver/Whistler landed the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and am hoping Hamilton snares the Commonwealth Games for that same year (a decision which will be made in November).
But I do have to voice a partial moral objection to the scads of cash being hurled in the direction of the two events by governments which too often plead poverty when those under their jurisdiction seek financial assistance.
The B.C. government and the feds have agreed to split the $620 million cost of building venues for the Winter Games. Meanwhile, Ottawa and Queen’s Park each will pony up $250 million if Hamilton wins the Commonwealth Games bid.
For those of you, like me, who disdain math whenever possible, that’s a tidy sum of $1.12 billion that is slated to be put forward for the sake of hosting the two events.
Granted, the status of hosting such high-profile international events, along with the legacy and the improved infrastructure left behind after their conclusion, make for compelling arguments to have these types of extravaganzas land on our shores.
But I have to wonder, had Vancouver/Whistler been nosed out by the South Korean delegation, would that $620 million still be available for such items as more schools and better health care?
If Hamilton falls by the wayside, will the federal and provincial governments pour the $500 million they’ve offered up into areas of concern such as the construction of more abused women’s shelters and the hiring of more police officers to keep our streets safe?
I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds me. Sport should be a priority in society, but not the most prevalent one.
If the money is there for athletic endeavours, it also should be there to deal with non-recreational segments of Canadian life.
• • •
Thumbs up to Edie Fisher, coach of the Kenora Swimming Sharks, who won the women’s 45-49-year-old division at the Canadian Triathlon Championships on July 13 in Edmonton.
Fisher’s victory qualifies her for both this December’s world championships in New Zealand, which she won’t be able to attend, and the 2004 worlds next spring in Portugal.
• • •
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com

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