Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Tournament: It takes a team y’all

When August rolls around, a lot of ladies’ minds can only focus around one main event on the Outer Banks: The Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament.

For 30 years, this tournament has been the one day where all of us ladies get to go out without any guys around, except for the captain and mate of course, and just kick it on back and enjoy a day of fishing, drinks, food, stories and “plead the fifths”.

I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Alice Kelly, but from the hundreds of stories I heard, she was a pretty epic lady.

Anyone who has friends who sat there and thought to themselves, “How can we honor our friend but in a way we know she would be cheering us on and give back?”

Thirty years later, you have the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Fishing Tournament and it still continues to be the largest, ladies only big game fishing tournament around.

What some people may not know is all of the money raised for this tournament goes back 100 percent to benefit breast cancer-related charities.

Everyone, unfortunately, can sit there and think about someone, or let’s face it, multiple people; they know or lost to cancer.

We as a community lost Alice Kelly to breast cancer and with the help of her awesome friends and the community us ladies get that one day out of the year, where we give back.

When 3 a.m. rolls around on Sunday morning this girl cannot sleep. My stomach starts to get into knots and the butterflies start flapping, I begin to question myself.

“Did I pack my sunglasses’? “Where is my towel?” “Chapstick packed?”

All of these questions and more I already know the answer too because I pack everything the night before, but I still double check or triple check, it’s just the way I am wired.

I mean after all we are going 65 miles offshore and there is nothing we can forget.

We when pull away from the docks the adrenaline already kicks in and my body starts to get a little shiver, because I know we are about to go out and look and search for the big one.

We get our game plan together of who is going to go on the rod first, rules of the tournament, do we have the champagne ready to pop under the bridge? You know, the priorities!

The sun starts making its appearance and I watch as the mate on the Tenacity, Robert, starts rigging up the bait and pulling everything out.

I study and ask probably way too many questions. Thanks Robert for putting up with me, but I just find it all so interesting because there really is a strategy for all of it. And Robert wants to win just as much as us ladies do.

Tom Baer is our captain on the Tenacity. I have been riding with Tom for the past three Alice Kelly’s and we talk about where we are heading.

And then I always try to convince him to let me crank on the rod with the first blue marlin on it because I am still trying to get my personal billfish grand slam. That’s a blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish.

With everything about Alice Kelly one thing that always pops in my head is: It takes a team y’all!

A team who wants to do “dunk-a-roos” because the fishing is slow, a team who cheers on each other as we are cranking on the rods, a team to grab you that extra slice of pizza, thanks Village Pizza.

It takes a team to make the Alice Kelly tournament all that it is. I love being a part of the biggest ladies only fishing tournament. Everything that makes it what it is, love.

So I want to say thanks so much to our Tenacity Team: Salt Water Metals LLC. Kill Devil Rum, Fish Heads Bar and Grill, Island School of Dance, NAPA in Manteo and Kitty Hawk, Croswait Custom Composites Inc. Lone Cedar Café and Village Pizza.

It takes a team. A community.

Thank you Tom Baer for getting us ladies home safe and on some dolphin, and thank you Robert for knowing how to prepare that can for a shotgun “dunk-a-roo” and for all the patience.

And even though we may not have won the 30th Alice Kelly Tournament, we came home with some dolphin for the freezer, new memories, pictures and those darn “plead the fifths.”

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