The Ebony Anglers are an all-black, female, competitive fishing team seeking to inspire and give back to their community.
The world of saltwater tournament fishing is a highly competitive one, albeit one without a whole lot of diversity in the participants. However, at least one group of black women in North Carolina are seeking to change all that after forming what is likely the first black female competitive fishing team.
The women quickly named their group "The Ebony Anglers," and they wasted no time making an impression in the world of competitive fishing with a first place win their very first fishing tournament.
The five women are also all business owners and mothers. And their goal is not just to compete and inspire other to try the sport of competitive fishing, but to help their community thorough the mentoring of young people. It's a great feel-good story. Here are the women who are making it happen.
The team's beginnings.
The team started in July of 2020 and was the idea of Gia Peebles. She is a salon owner in Durham, North Carolina. Peebles watched the popular Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament with her husband when she found inspiration.
"When I saw women of all ages coming from their fishing boats with fish and winning prizes, I noticed there were no women of color competing," Peebles said in a press release. "I said to myself, 'We can do this.'"
She reached out to four friends. A few thought she was joking at first. However, they were excited to join once they realized she was serious and the Ebony Anglers group was born. According to their website, their goals go beyond simply competing in fishing tournaments. They want to create more diversity and inclusion in competitive fishing, inspire others, build a lifestyle brand, and to mentor youth in values of sportsmanship and leadership.
As we have already mentioned, Gia Peebles owns a salon and boutique in Durham, North Carolina. She started the business in 2001. Prior to that, she attended California State University at Long Beach and earned a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice. She worked for Ault, Duprey, Jones and Gorman, a law firm in San Diego before moving to North Carolina.
Her competitiveness is nothing new. Gia lettered in four sports in high school. Softball was her specialty. She won the Jr. Olympics in the sport and her skills earned her a scholarship and a stint on the Durham Dragons, a professional softball team. She also coached for North Carolina Central University, leading the women's team to a championship in the CIAA. She has three sons with her husband William Maurice. It was William's love of fishing that inspired Gia to go along to see what it was all about.
Getting into competitive fishing only seemed natural for Lesleigh Mausi. Her father Raymond had a lifelong love of angling and chartered deep sea fishing trips for other anglers regularly. Lesleigh co-founded and serves as VP of an entertainment promotion company called The DOME Group. She is also the owner of the Art of Cool Music Festival and formed an online radio station called Art of Cool Radio as an offshoot of that work.
Before that, she earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Michigan, and a Masters degree in Educational Leadership at Wayne State University. She worked in education for 23 years, working in Detroit and Durham. Lesleigh earned Assistant Principal of the Year while working with Durham Public Schools in 2016. She has also written a book called "Through the Fire," and is a trained pianist. Lesleigh has three sons with her husband Sulaiman.
Glenda was a key figure in the early days of Durham's cosmetic nails industry back during the 1980s and has earned many awards for her work as a licensed manicurist. She helped establish the first black nail salon in Durham and has done extensive work to train others in nail care over for the past 38 years. She currently offers full nail services with several businesses.
Turner is also a frequent attendee at professional nail shows. Her work published in publications like Durham Magazine. She is also a published author in the News & Observer. She also works as a mentor in the cosmetic nails industry and has assisted in the training of others in the profession. She is also a frequent volunteer with various causes in her community. She has three children and eight grandchildren with her husband Walter.
Palmer is an entrepreneur who founded a marketing firm called SMG in 2010 and now works with clients around the world in the fashion and music industry. Her media group, Baroque Fashion Media has worked with prominent names in both industries like designers Stevie Boi, and Lizzie London. She has also worked with musicians like Nnenna Freelon, Big Daddy Kane, and Yahzarah.
Bobbiette has plenty of irons in the fire. She also works as a freelance model, a graphic artist, and is currently Creative Director and CEO of Socialotus Media Group. She also spends much of her time trying to teach marketing skills to other potential entrepreneurs. Bobbiette recently started a series of classes called "Brand or Die" to teach brand marketing and refreshment skills to business owners quickly.
Davis started her career in medicine after earning a B.S. in Pre-Medical Biology from Hampton University in 1997. She left the field in 2004 to open a restaurant in Long Island, New York with her husband Bruce. Eventually, they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. After moving, they took a break from the food industry for a decade to run a publishing company.
Eventually, the couple returned to the restaurant and catering business with On Board Char, a full-service caterer currently serving the Triangle area. Although Davis is new to the world of tournament fishing, she does have some experience in it prior to joining the Ebony Anglers. She has five children.
The team's first win.
It did not take long for the Ebony Anglers to make an impact in the professional fishing scene. In July of 2020, they competed in the king mackerel division of the Carteret Community College Foundation Spanish Mackerel and Dolphin Tournament in Morehead City, their very first tournament as a professional team. They ended up winning their division with a 48-pound king mackerel reeled in by Lesleigh and Gia after a lengthy battle.
Their win was only their second time on the boat together. The impressive feat earned them time on the Today Show and The Drew Barrymore Show to talk about the experience.
"We got the line out there and I mean, it hit within about half an hour," Bobbiette told the Today Show. "Lesleigh starts reeling it in, she is fighting this thing for about 40 minutes, Gia fights the fish for another 20 minutes. And finally, you start to see that color breaking the water and you can start to get a sense for how massive this fish is."
The win made national headlines with publications like the New York Times picking up and running the story of their success. This attracted even more attention to the group's efforts to spread a love of fishing to others.
Outreach to the community and giving back.
The competitive women's fishing team wants to do more than just win tournaments though. Their website proudly proclaims their vision is to: "Establish a legacy of leadership, sportsmanship and excellence for youth through education and mentoring."
The way they are doing is with their nonprofit, The Ebony Anglers Foundation. Its goal is educate youth on fishing and boating, instill leadership and life skills, and just to generate an appreciation for the outdoors in youngsters. The foundation has two programs called "Black Girls Fish," and "Black Boys Boat."
These programs regularly hold youth events to teach boating and fishing skills to children from eight to 12 years of age. The women are hoping their work will lead to better representation of black people in the outdoor and fishing tournament scenes. They also hope it inspires confidence in the children and gives them skills they can use throughout life.
Response to the Ebony Anglers
While fishing tournaments have not seen many women of color participate in the past, the great news to this story is that they were warmly welcomed onto the scene by others immediately. In fact, they generated a ton of buzz before the tournament even began.
"We've actually been received with open arms," Peebles told the Today Show. "People say 'Oh, we've heard about you, we've been following you all.' And we do know that there are not a lot of people of color in this sport, so we do realize we are kind of trailblazing a path for others to want to participate in sportfishing."
They have also generated a large online following of fans on their social channels already. This year the team competed at their first Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament where they were well received by other competitors and the organizers of the event. They have also started to earn sponsorships from prominent outdoors brands like Columbia.
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