A collection of Miami Hurricane football greats will be getting together for some fishing and fun in Islamorada this weekend, all in the name of fundraising.
More than 50 former UM athletes including Andre Johnson and Randall Hill, this year’s hosts, will be casting lines into the ocean Saturday morning as part of the fifth annual Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys/University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame Celebrity Dolphin Tournament.
The tournament begins with a kickoff party, silent auction and captains’ meeting Friday evening at Founders Park and is followed on Saturday by a full day of fishing, awards dinner and live and silent auctions featuring unique sports memorabilia
The events pairs participants with former UM sports stars.
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Cash prizes and trophies will be presented to anglers in eight categories, and proceeds from the event will go to Habitat for Humanity, The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the Coastal Conservation Association and the UM Sports Hall of Fame.
“I am very proud of how far we’ve come,” said K.C. Jones, president of the UM Sports Hall of Fame, two-time Super Bowl winner with the Denver Broncos and founder of the tournament. “In only five years, we’ve not only created the largest fishing tournament in the Florida Keys, but we’ve established the tournament as an opportunity for fans to get to know their favorite former Hurricanes players, all supporting the Miami and Florida Keys communities while raising money for important causes.”
A total of 55 boats carrying four anglers preregistered for the event. according to Judy Layne, the tournament director. That’s five more than last year. In 2013, there were nearly 100 boats in the tournament.
“We should get another 25 to 30 boats that register on Friday,” Layne wrote in an email to the Miami Herald. “Registration is open on Friday starting at 5 at Founders Park. Overall, we usually have 500 to 600 people each day at the event. I will not know how much money is raised for the charities until after the event because much of that comes from boat entries, auction sales, etc.”
John Routh, the man who played the role of UM mascot Sebastian The Ibis for years, said other Canes greats expected to participate include fotmer coach Jimmy Johnson, assistant coach Art Kehoe, Warren Sapp, Ted Hendricks, Gary Dunn, D.J. Williams, Bennie Blades and Craig Erickson.
“There will be others that haven’t told us they’re coming,” Routh said. “It’s a great party.
“Even if they’re not fishing, the guys are in a relaxed mood and happy to take photos with everyone there.”
It costs $650 to register a boat carrying four anglers. The angler who catches the biggest dolphin gets $3,000 plus other prizes. There are also awards for juniors and females.
The biggest dolphin caught in the tournament’s history was a 43-pounder reeled in by Mike Vera in 2013.
People who don’t want to fish can register for a social ticket for $25 on Friday and $50 on Saturday.
“It’s always about fun,” Jones said. “But there’s always drama at the end because guys have those competitive juices flowing. I’m expecting the same as always.”
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