FLORENCE-Francis Marion University’s fishing team hopes to reel in another big win this year at the 26th Annual Coastal Carolina Invitational. This Intercollegiate Sport Fishing Match and Seminar will be held on Nov. 17.
Don Kelley, a professor of business administration at FMU, has been coaching the team from the time it began. He and Donald Millus, tournament director and an English professor at Coastal Carolina University, initiated the first competition in 1974. More than 100 teams have participated since then, including teams from the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Yale University, the University of West Ontario and North Carolina State University.
The schools participating this year are Clemson, Coastal Carolina, USC and FMU. The three-member teams and their coaches will leave at 7 a.m. from Captain Dick’s Marina in Murrells Inlet. The event will last until 5 p.m.
The teams will be awarded one point per pound of game fish caught. All edible bottom fish will be counted, but sharks will be excluded. Points will be awarded for fish that are tagged and released alive. Fish that are not released will be served at the awards dinner hosted by the Creekhouse Restaurant later that evening. Awards will be given for the largest game fish caught and the most outstanding angler.
The winning team will be awarded a plaque. Other prizes include fishing equipment and “bragging rights,” Kelley said.
C.B. Askins Construction in Lake City is sponsoring the FMU team. Bill Askins, product manager at the company, is a 1990 graduate of FMU and a former fishing team member. Askins said the competition is about more than just fishing. “You get to meet students from other schools who share a similar passion,” he said. “Some of the same people I met while I was on the fishing team, I now do business with.”
Even though Kelley is leaving the primary coaching to Lang Beaty, assistant director of Purchasing at FMU, he still goes out to support the team. Team members are Warren Fox of Georgetown, Lindsay Bigham of Florence and Forest David, team captain, of Florence.