By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Staff
This past weekend wasn’t just super for football fans. Beginning with the signing of LSUS’s first female angler on Friday afternoon, the news just kept getting better for local college fishing.
Marlee Churchman became the first female angler to join the LSUS Fishing Team when she signed her letter Friday afternoon at Captain Shreve High School. Among those in attendance were her parents, Leanne and Jeff Churchman, current LSUS Coach Charles Thompson, former coach Donnie Westmoreland and a number of supporters.
Breaking new ground is nothing new for Churchman. In addition to being the first female angler on the LSUS team, she was the first to join the Gators.
“A couple of years ago, my dad bought a boat to go fishing and I started going with him,” said Marlee.
Actually, that’s not the whole story.
“She was trying to get me to buy a boat a few years ago because she wanted to be on the high school team,” explained Jeff Churchman. “So I got a boat and, once it started, she kind of went ballistic. She loved it. She joined the team immediately.”
Churchman’s excitement about making history was not lost on Thompson.
“This is very cool, to be the first female,” the LSUS coach said about signing Churchman. “I’ve got three girls of my own and push them to be whatever they can be. I tell them there are lots of reasons people will exclude you. But you can be included also. So, when there is a chance of being the first, take advantage of it.
“These are really exciting times,” continued Thompson. “With this being Black History Month, I have been interviewed recently so there has been attention on us. For women and for Blacks, there are still things we haven’t broken through, but this is a start.”
The news just kept getting better for the LSUS team. Also over the weekend, current LSUS angler Brayden Nichols finished fifth at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Fishing League Championship on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas. And on Lake Sam Rayburn in Texas, Levi Thibodeaux, a fellow 2022 LSUS recruit with Churchman, won the co-angler side of the Toyota Series Championship event.
For Thompson, who played baseball at Airline High School and grew up fishing, it was a truly super weekend. “People are noticing us,” he said.