DOPE PROS: Bass Fishing with Pro Angler Torcia

1 Dec

Fishing

 

Through the Wire with African-American Pro Angler—Torica Whitty

Since its humble beginnings in the late 19th century—the professional sport of bass fishing, which involves the angling of a rod with hopes of catching a black bass (the second most sought-after game fish in the United States)—has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry, which was once entirely represented by Caucasians—that is, until 1976—when Alfred “The Frog Master” Williams became the first African-American male Pro Angler to fish in a B.A.S.S. pro event; and in 1984—Williams became the first African-American to fish the Bassmaster Classic. He courageously broke through bass fishing’s color barrier, and ever since then—a small door has been opened for minorities to compete in the competitive outdoor world of bass fishing.

 

Most recently in 2011, during Black History Month—Sabrina Thompson became the first African-American female Pro Angler to compete in the Bassmaster Opens, which is a very important milestone because her accomplishment made fishing industry vendors—to recognize not only Thompson, but also—African-American fishing organizations like the International Federation of Black Bass Anglers Inc. and The North Coast Black Bass Anglers Association, and millions of other women and minority anglers—as a legitimate demographic, but ever since then—the sport of bass fishing still lacks diversity; which brings us into today’s topic of discussion, with the wonderful—Mrs. Torica Whitty, another premiere African-American Pro Angler, a 22-year army veteran, and most importantly—an inspirational role model to a new generation of minority women.Fishing 2

 

No stranger to adversity—Mrs. Whitty knows firsthand that the odds are certainly stacked against her, but she is determined to accomplished one of her life-long goals, and that is—to not only become the first African-American Pro Angler to win the Bassmaster Classic—but to become the first woman to ever do so. Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, because the word impossible says—I’m Possible,” and because of that possibility, although it may be slim in size—is what gives Mrs. Whitty a fighting chance of reeling in her most sort after prize, which is—the Bassmaster Classic trophy.

 

ZT: Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing? Where are you from, and what was life like growing up there?

TW: I was born in Jonesboro, Louisiana—which is a small town and the parish seat of Jackson Parish, the place where—I spent the majority of my childhood years—walking around in the woods—all by myself, and I can vividly remember—being an insecure little tomboy, and all I used to do was—all the things that the boys around my age were doing, so naturally—I grew up fishing in the ponds and creeks, playing basketball, riding motorcycles, and I even used to hunt with pellet guns, but as I got older—I began experiencing a lot of problems with my mother and family, and those domestic issues—were the main reasons why I joined the military.

 

It wasn’t easy growing up in my household, being the oldest of three girls, but somehow—I just didn’t fit in, and I can remember—it was Christmas, and we went to my stepfather sister’s house. All the children there received gifts. My two sisters got polka dot rain jackets, but I didn’t get anything, and when we got home later that evening—my mother and stepfather had a big argument, but the plot thickened years later—when I gave birth to my son, at the tender age of seventeen. All of a sudden, I became the outcast, and still to this very day, when I look back at it all—fishing kept me sane.

 

ZT: How did you get into your profession?

TW: In 2006, I was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and at that time—my husband came to visit me. I wanted to go fishing, so we went to a local tackle shop in St. Roberts, and when we arrived there—an older man started talking to my husband about fishing, but my husband stopped him and said, “I appreciate you talking to me about fishing, but I don’t know anything about fishing—you need to be talking to my wife.”

 

So—the man walked over to me and told me about a local fishing club, and afterwards—I joined the club, and that’s where I met Rick and Travis, father and son. They took me under their wing, and taught me as much as they knew—about fishing the waters in Missouri. I was eager to learn so I absorbed everything like a sponge, and at the end of that year—I purchased my first bass boat, and after catching a 6-pound bass—I was hooked, and ever since then—I’ve been reeling them in.

 

ZT: Being an African-American female Pro Angler, what would you say is the greatest obstacle that you had or have to overcome?

TW: The biggest obstacle that I have to overcome is being stereotyped—because most people from other races view black women as the women from Love and Hip Hop and Real Housewives of Atlanta—that all of us are ghetto, loud and obnoxious—but that description doesn’t fit my characteristics. On top of being categorized—I’m face with a lot of male chauvinism. It’s okay for me to be willing to give my life for this country—that’s all fine and dandy, but the moment I decide to fish on a boat, and be competitive with the men—it’s a problem. I’ve heard it all—you know there’s a league for women, right? Women have their own leagues, why don’t you compete there? But I never let them discourage me, and now I professionally fish on both sides—the men and the women.

 

ZT: What would you say is the secret behind your success?

TW: God, because when everything fails me—my faith always gets me through, and when it looks like I’m down and out—God always opens a new door for me.

 

ZT: How do you feel about the current state of the fishing industry?

TW: Right now, high school and college fishing are the big things, so—big people in the fishing industry are reaching back and recruiting high school children, but you might see two African American children to 20 children of other nationalities, and at the college level—you might see one, maybe two African Americans sprinkled in-between. There’s just not a great representation of every race in the fishing industry, and when I compete—I know when I walk into a crowded room of 300 people, there’s gonna be less than 10 people in that room that look like me, and there’s gonna be nobody—female wise—that looks like me, and I accept that.

 

ZT: Years from now, when historians are writing about Torica Whitty, what will they say?

TW: Torica Whitty changed the sport of bass fishing through appearance and hard work, and because of her many contributions—girls are looking like girls on the water, tennis skirts and all; and when I’m 80 or 90 years old—I want to be able to turn on my TV or whatever it will be then—and see some girl on the front of a boat, and I wanna be able to say—I opened that door for her.

 

ZT: What’s your favorite word and why?

TW: I have this one phrase that I always say, which is—I’m Bassin’ by Faith, and if I had to choose just one word, I would say— driven.

 

ZT: What is your most memorable moment during your fishing tournaments?

TW: My most memorable moments are—when I see my family at my tournaments. I get to meet a lot of people that never seen a black woman on a boat—let alone one that can drive a boat. So to me—that’s very flattering. It’s a great feeling knowing that my family supports me—no matter if I win or lose.

 

ZT: As an honored guest, is there anything else would you like say?

TW: I’m just trying to make a significant difference in the world of bass fishing, and if people don’t like it, then guess what? I’m not going away, so—like Jay-Z said, “Either love me or love me alone.” Also, we need to start telling our children—that there are other avenues out there for them. Playing basketball and baseball is cool, but what about fishing? We need to tell them about the great outdoors.

 

ZT: Thank you very much Torica—it was an honor and a great pleasure—interviewing a woman of your stature, and for anyone who wants to know more about Mrs. Torica Whitty—please visit her official website at ToricaWhitty.com, and in conclusion—I want to end this wonderful interview with Mel Blanc’s famous catchphrase, “That’s All Folks!” Have a wonderfully blessed day and always remember that (P) Positive, (E) Energy, (A) Always, (C) Creates, (E) Elevation (PEACE).

 

Writer: Zangba Thomson

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