Offshore Battle Fishing Tournament in Massachusetts aims to raise money for Norwich’s general fund

Everything gets away in this fish story. But that’s the idea.

On Friday, a group of Norwich University alumni will present the second annual Norwich Offshore Battle Fishing Tournament, a catch-and-release contest, at the marina in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Although the fish will eventually swim away free, Norwich alumni organizers hope to net cash to benefit the university’s general fund.

Paul Morgan, assistant director of Norwich’s Maroon & Gold Athletic Association, said fundraising will come from boat sponsorships ($500 to $1,000) and raffle ticket sales (tickets are one for $10 or 50 for $400). Some sponsorship money will let some current students, at least 10 as of Wednesday, fish (and network), Morgan added. 

“It’s a lighthearted group,” Morgan said. “The conversations keep you laughing.” Paul Morgan, assistant director, Norwich University Maroon & Gold Athletic Association

Raffle prizes will include tickets to golf outings, Boston-area sporting events and the grand prize, a Saragosa rod and reel. Click here to buy sponsorships or tickets.

The tournament’s brochure said this year’s event, modeled after New England shark and tuna tournaments, includes 11 teams (more than double 2019’s total) and 53 participants. 

“While the issues across the country swirl around us,” the brochure said, “it’s nice to step back and remember those who have gone before us and provided us the opportunity and privilege to be here and enjoy our very fortunate situation as colleagues, friends and fish (hunters).”

fish 2 min
Participants fly Norwich University’s flag over boats during the 2019 Offshore Battle Fishing Tournament in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (Photo by Offshore Battle Fishing Tournament Committee.)

Each team’s boat will have a captain and crews of one to seven people. Teams will fish Cape Cod’s Stellwagen Bank for four kinds of shark — mako, porbeagle, blue and thresher — and two kinds of fish — Atlantic bluefin tuna and stripers. 

Teams, some with cheeky names like Chasin’ Tail and Hook ’Em Danno, will earn points for catches, as long as they’re photographically proved. Points will vary by fish type. 

To sweep the catch list, teams would have to reel in 16 fish. The winning team gets a Norwich saber.

Morgan said the Offshore Battle was inspired by the Big Game Battle, an annual Atlantic Coast deep-sea fishing contest that Donald O’Neill ’87 started and has benefited several charities, including agencies helping disadvantaged children and foundations supporting debilitating-disease research. (O’Neill will captain an Offshore Battle team, too.)

Fishing for fun

Morgan said the Offshore Battle organizers, who include O’Neill’s 1987 classmates Chuck Pappalardo and Hugh McLaughlin, are focused businesspeople but fish for fun.

“It’s a lighthearted group,” Morgan said. “The conversations keep you laughing.”

Pappalardo will captain Team Ginny G, aka Team Essayons, with his son Sam Pappalardo ’21, brother Bob Pappalardo ’95 and buddy Jim (Geeks) Gikas ’86, in the crew. He said the tournament lets him practice philanthropy, share the Norwich experience and enjoy a favorite pastime.

“The alums I hang around with mostly grew up on the coast and have all been fishing for quite some time,” he wrote in an email. “Fishing and fishing stories are a great way to spend time with alum friends.”

In a separate email, McLaughlin, team Hunt and Harvest’s captain, wrote, “Lots of Norwich alumni are avid sportsman ... fishing, hunting, outdoor appreciation, etc. … And many of us don’t golf!”

Contest-regulation fish weren’t biting much last year, at all really. So, McLaughlin said, more types of fish were added to boost catch chances. Last year’s low count may have related to fish size, Morgan said; contest catches are so big that it will take two people to hold them for a camera.

Morgan said contest organizers would be happy to raise $5,000 to $10,000. But Pappalardo said the real reward is camaraderie, which is priceless.

“Anything we can generate to give back to the school,” Pappalardo said, “is a win in our eyes.” 

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