Union Sportsmen/Former NFL Players Teach San Antonio Youth to Fish at 2nd Annual ‘Fishing Lines at Christmas Time’ Event
Nearly 200 youth and their families turned out at San Antonio’s Woodlawn Lake Park on Saturday for the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Annual Fishing Lines at Christmas Time event.
The free, community event was organized by the San Antonio Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) with support from the Priest
Holmes Foundation and NFLPA San Antonio/Austin Former Players Chapter. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was also on-site with a safety officer and sheriff’s boat.
“I grew up in the outdoors—that’s how I raised my kids. It’s such a crucial part of conservation, but there’s a clear disconnect between kids today and the outdoors,” said San Antonio BCTC Representative Shane Denn. “Anything we can do to engage kids in nature is worth every penny. Me and the other union volunteers had a blast, and I want to make this an annual event.”
Union volunteers donated their time to rig fishing poles and provide youth with instruction and assistance.
Thirteen union volunteers representing the San Antonio BCTC, IBEW Local 60, UA Local 142, Insulators Local 87, Sheet Metal Workers Local 67, Roofers International, and the NFLPA San Antonio/Austin Former Players Chapter, donated their time to rig fishing poles and provide youth with instruction and assistance in baiting, casting, and landing fish.
“The event was outstanding,” said Jordan “Gig” Ritenour, assistant to the international president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers. “We got to interact with a lot of different people. Many of the parents were learning as we taught the kids, and they were just as excited to get their hands on a fishing pole—many for the first time.”
Priest Holmes, former NFL player and founder of Priest Holmes Foundation, was proud to be part of the youth outreach event in the city
where he grew up.
“It’s my passion to be able to use my professional career as a platform to connect with underserved communities,” Holmes said. “Fishing brings the experience of being outdoors while learning patience and a new life skill. It’s a connection between myself and the families who participate while we create positive memories.”
Participating youth received a free fishing rod and reel to continue fishing for years to come. They were also gifted stuffed animals through the Priest Holmes Foundation’s partnership with PetSmart, and many won additional prizes. Adding to the holiday spirit, Slingshot San Antonio brought several vehicles decorated in Christmas lights, including the San Antonio Spurs car, for families to take photos. To cap off the morning of fishing, union volunteers prepared a picnic lunch for everyone, and PepsiCo provides chips and beverages.
“Getting families outdoors together, especially in urban areas, and giving them the knowledge and tools to pursue activities like fishing is so important to the future of our outdoor heritage,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “We are proud to provide young people with these rewarding experiences and extremely grateful to all the union members and partners who make them possible.”
The event was part of a series of free, community-based Take Kids Fishing Day events, sponsored by Humana, organized under the USA’s Work Boots on the Ground conservation program and supported by national partner Provost Umphrey Law Firm as well as USA founding partners UIG, ULLICO, Bank of Labor, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation and Buck Knives.
The Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO also holds an annual Kids Free Fishing Event. This year (June 4, 2022) marked the 10th Annual Event in La Crosse by the WWAFLCIO.