Hooked on the community: High school fishing team finds unique ways to give back
By Angela Loucks
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A local high school fishing team is finding their own unique ways to give back to the community that supports their education.
The Wisconsin Rapids Ice Fishing Team, made up of Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools (WRPS) students, meets regularly, goes fishing, and participates in ice fishing competitions.
“We’ve been around since approximately 2011 when a couple of kids approached me about coaching the team,” said Scott Stankowski, head coach and teacher for WRPS. “Since then, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association (WIFA) formed and there are now over 80 teams across the state. There are fishing tournaments throughout the season culminating in a state championship. Our team won the state championship in 2015, 2016, and 2017; and was runner up in 2018.”
The group also cleans fish for the “Battle On Bago” tournament in February, runs the annual Campus Clean Up by organizing classrooms to clean up garbage on campus and the surrounding neighborhood donates outdoor items – such as fishing poles and lures – to Toys for Tots so kids can learn more about the outdoors, sells “Consent Bracelets” during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in association with the National Wild Turkey Federation and donates the proceeds to domestic abuse shelters, creates a lunch-time recycling program in the school, and volunteers during the state cross country meet.
“The Fishing Team enables kids that normally fish within their family to work and play together in a positive environment,” said Scott. “Students learn a lot about life, ice fishing and feeling good about themselves by making a positive impact. It is our responsibility as people of the community to give back to it. I find it important to give back in areas that you are passionate about. I oftentimes feel I get more out of the volunteering than I put in through the satisfaction of helping others and gaining knowledge – also in watching how the members of the team respond and are able to do things on their own.”
For more information on the fishing team, visit the Rapids CO-OP Ice Fishing Team Facebook page.