Tournament Reports –Mandie Phillips Memorial Fishing Tournament
The 3rd iteration of the Mandie Phillips Memorial Fishing Tournament was originally slated for September 22, 2018, but like so many coastal North Carolina events, it had to be postponed due to the arrival of Hurricane Florence. And though it was eventually rescheduled for April 20, 2019, the weather still had other ideas, as tropical storm conditions in the ocean resulted in the offshore division of the tournament being cancelled.
While the weather didn’t cooperate, though, the community certainly did. And like Allison Long, co-owner of Motts Channel Seafood in Wrightsville Beach and founder of the tournament, says, “That’s what this is about… community.”
Only twelve boats signed up to brave the inshore conditions for the tournament itself, but around 400 people attended the banquet on the night of the 20th.
“It was a huge success,” says Long, before breaking down how the tournament portion of the event works.
Normally, the tournament has six categories in the two divisions. Inshore anglers are looking for the single biggest flounder, red drum, and trout, while the offshore division challenges boats to find the biggest wahoo, tuna, and mahi. Since the offshore division was cancelled in 2019, an “Inshore 2.0” division was created, which tasked the inshore boats with finding the biggest lizardfish, bluefish, and pinfish in the area.
“We made the best out of it, and everybody got a big chuckle out of it,” Long says, explaining how her son Lambert came up with the idea.
Overall, just three fish were weighed in: a small flounder, caught by Lenny Smith; a pinfish, caught by Michael Faircloth; and a bluefish, caught by Harrison Crist. Each angler won $450 for their catch.
The post-tournament banquet featured a silent auction that included everything from a custom-made bar to a golden retriever puppy. While Long is still working on the numbers, she says that it’s going to be even better than 2017, when the event raised a total of $47,000.
The money raised is in honor of Mandie Phillips, who once worked for Long at Motts Channel and was a senior at Appalachian State University when she was killed in a tragic car accident in 2014.
“Mandie was special,” says Long. “She could always lift everybody up and put everybody in a good mood.” Long, wanting to do something in her memory, came up with the idea for the event shortly after Phillips passed away, reaching out to Phillips’ mother Susanna and watching the idea snowball from there.
Every penny raised goes toward an endowment at Appalachian State in Mandie’s name, as well as to scholarships for local New Hanover County, Brunswick, and Pender County students.
In 2016, Appalachian State received $25,000 for the endowment, while a $5K scholarship was given to local New Hanover county student (picked by ASU based on a rubric for criteria provided by the Phillips family). In 2017 that number jumped to $32,000 for the endowment and three $5,000 scholarships. While the event was postponed in 2018, sponsors were still able to send Appalachian State $5,000 for an additional scholarship.
“I really believe in my heart that it is our responsibility to give back to the community,” Long says, adding that everyone involved with the event did exactly that. “I surround myself with great people and great volunteers. It’s not just [Motts Channel], it’s a team of people that come together. Many people and many months of hard work go into it, and we appreciate all the volunteers”
The Mandie Phillips Memorial Fishing Tournament will return, and while dates may change, one can count on the fact that not even Mother Nature will be enough to stop all the good work that Allison Long and the Wrightsville Beach community are doing.