Participants in fishing tournament walk away with more than a win

Walker High School fishing team volunteer their time; host Big Bass Fishing Tournament

WALKER, LA (WAFB) - There’s nothing quite like fishing on the bank with a friend.

“You teach them, but at the same time they’re teaching you,” said Bronson Beck, a senior at Walker High School.

It's especially interesting when those friends only met about 5 minutes before they started casting their lines.

Jeremy Ferachi, the fishing team coach at Walker High School says he doesn’t partner the students with their fishing buddy.

“I just kind of leave them on their own. It’s amazing because in about 5 minutes they’re all partnered up and have made a lifelong friend,” Ferachi said.

“You find someone that’s kind of like you, even if they are a little different,” Beck says. “It’s very easy to have that connection with them.”

This is the second year the Walker High School fishing team decided to volunteer their time and host a Big Bass Fishing Tournament with the Walker Parks Challenger Division.

Quantrell Mars with Head Coach Jeremy Ferachi SOURCE: Walker High School Fishing Team
Quantrell Mars with Head Coach Jeremy Ferachi SOURCE: Walker High School Fishing Team

The event today was the first day Quan Mars’ son, Quantrell, has fished. His mother says it’s safe to say he considers himself a pro now.

“He’s comfortable,” said Mars. “No one is standing back, trying to figure out who he is and what’s going on with him.”

Mars says the program is helping Quantrell, who is autistic, thrive in a place he otherwise might not.

“We decided he needed to be involved in something with people that are going to be patient with him,” Mars said. “He’s not being judged and I think he knows that without even expressing it.”

Quantrell’s buddy, Bronson, who is a competitive fisher helped make that happen.

“It’s not just for fishing, it’s helping the community,” Beck says. “It’s like picking a new friend.”

Traci Westmoreland, director of the challenger division, says organizers strive to place all of their kids in normal environments.

“You want them to fit in and do everything that a child without special needs can do. They might need that extra help to adapt, but you want them to be able to do what everyone else can do.”

Dakota Flauss with Head Coach Jeremy Ferachi SOURCE: Walker High School Fishing Team
Dakota Flauss with Head Coach Jeremy Ferachi SOURCE: Walker High School Fishing Team

Across the lake, a pair of twins were showing everybody the right way to catch dinner. Right in the middle of an interview, they struck up a conversation of their own, Dalton couldn't believe Dakota was one step ahead of him.

Dakota caught a one-pound bass. He went on to win first prize in the tournament.

Unfortunately, in the end, only one person can claim the top prize, but the true winners today were the people walking away with newfound friendships and a better appreciation for others.

“There’s a lot more to life than just your little world,” said Ferachi. “There’s a lot more that you can give back.”

If you want to volunteer or know someone that’s interested in joining the Walker Parks Challenger Division call 225-788-7883.

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