Meet the Ebony Anglers: An All-Black, Female Competitive Fishing Team Making History
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If you haven't already heard of the Ebony Anglers, it's only a matter of time until you do. An all-Black female competitive fishing team based in North Carolina, the Ebony Anglers are making major waves in the sports world as five professional women who embrace the sport of competitive fishing, while balancing family, motherhood, and business.
Founded in June of this year after salon owner Gia Peebles attended the annual Big Rock Fishing Tournament in Beaufort, North Carolina, the Ebony Anglers launched with a mission to impact the sport of competitive women's fishing through diversity and inclusion of female anglers of color. "When I saw women of all ages coming from their fishing boats with fish and winning prizes, I noticed that there were no women of color competing," Peebles says. "I said to myself, 'We can do this. I already know accomplished women who are leaders and know how to win in other aspects of their lives—we can do this.'"
When Peebles noticed the lack of women of color in competitive fishing, she approached four of her business owning friends—Lesleigh Mausi, Glenda Turner, Bobbiette Palmer, and Tiana Davis—and asked them to form a team; the Ebony Anglers were born. "Our mission is to create an elevated lifestyle brand anchored in nautical sportsmanship and fine outdoor living while modeling the strength, balance, and resilience of Black women," Peebles explains. "We also want to establish a legacy of leadership, sportsmanship, and excellence for youth through education and mentoring."
Just one month after forming the team, the Ebony Anglers took first place in the King Mackerel division of Carteret County College Foundation's Spanish Mackerel and Dolfin Tournament in Morehead City, North Carolina. "The team reeled in a 48-pound King Mackerel and earned a coveted citation from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission," Peebles says. "The award recognizes anglers for their outstanding recreational catches."
The team competed in their second tournament in October 2020, reeling in seven King Mackerel within four hours of the last day of the tournament. "The Ebony Anglers will come full circle when we compete next June 2021 in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament, which is the tournament Gia witnessed, sparking the formation of our team," Davis explains.
The Sporting Life
Along with being mothers and business owners, each of the women have made the Ebony Anglers an integral part of their lives. "As a team, we research our tournaments, the fish, and the region/waters we'll be competing in," Turner explains. "We charter our boat, we practice and prepare, then we get out there on the open sea, drop lines, and get to work." The team competes in one deep-sea tournament per quarter, and meets on a monthly basis to practice. They also hold weekly business meetings to research, strategize, and plan the next steps for competitions and programming for youth. "We are truly a team in every sense of the word," Mausi says. "We all play a part, and we all are essential to the success of our journey together. It's a sisterhood."
In addition to competitive fishing, the Ebony Anglers have launched mentoring and leadership programs to help educate and empower youth through the sport. Both Black Girls Fish (BGF) and Black Boys Boat (BBB) are 501c3 non-profit and tax exempt programs where the team works with local youths to develop an appreciation and agility for fishing. "Leadership and survival skills are nurtured as young people discover self-sufficiency and connection with the outdoor lifestyle," Palmer explains. "We educate youth in the fundamentals of fishing and boating, both as a sport and as a lifestyle."
The Real Reward
While balancing motherhood, business, and personal life can be demanding, Mausi says their dedication to meaningful social change always triumphs. "Being able to balance the three, and compete and win in a male-dominated sport, is a testament to the strength that lies within the many layers of being a woman," she explains. "Being women of color in this sport shines a light on the importance for inclusion and diversity in representation in the outdoor space."