PORT WASHINGTON -- There are all sorts of sports kids can play in high school but sometimes, the traditional athletics aren't a great fit for everyone. So this season, Port Washington High School added an ice fishing team.
"Some of the kids in there are not involved in a lot of sport activities or clubs in the school," Nick Havlik, the ice fishing coach said. "It's definitely a different thing."
Havlik first heard of the possibility of a high school ice fishing team while hitting the frozen lakes up north with his family. He saw dozens of teenagers running around the lake and asked some questions. As it turns out, the tournament was being run by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association (WIFA). So he brought the idea up back at school for some students he knew enjoyed ice fishing.
"I have a passion to go fishing," Havlik said. "But it definitely created that opportunity. We started digging and it came to fruition where there were a group of kids who wanted to go forward with it."
Some of the students do play other sports at Port Washington, but ice fishing is a passion they're excited to experience with the school.
"We're fishing," Havlik said. "It's not the last second free throw to win a game. It's more or less about getting out to have fun and creating memories."
"I love being in the outdoors," Antonio Feciskonin, a junior said. "I love this. I knew a bunch of guys who would love to do this and said, this is doable. We can do it. It's something that's not common but when you think about it, it's like hey, that's really interesting."
The turnout was greater than expected. The students thought maybe a handful would come out but they had more than a dozen show up. They've only been in one tournament so far, and didn't win anything. However, it's less about the fish and more about sharing something they have a passion for with friends.
"I like it a lot," Nolan Large, a senior said. "It's fun being with my buddies out there, joking around and having a good time."
"It's new experiences," Jason Gourley, a junior said. "Getting to meet other people around the school that are passionate about something I'm passionate about."
Gourley says he's been ice fishing since he was young. So he has years of experience over some other novice ice fisherman on the team. However, he loves helping out those who are interested and making new friends.
"It's a sport you don't just watch on TV and pick it up," Gourley said. "You have to go and experience it and learn how to do it yourself. I really enjoy helping other people."
While they are competing and having fun, Havlik knows this is a great lesson for the kids to learn more than just the "how to's" of ice fishing.
"The reality is, the fishing is the fishing," Havlik said. "But having those good memories and stuff like that is a cool opportunity."