GRAND RAPIDS — Kyniska, a princess from ancient Sparta, was the first woman to win an Olympic chariot race, but she was barred from collecting her prize in person. Katherine Switzer was almost literally taken out of the 1967 Boston Marathon when race official Jock Semple attempted to drag her out of the race while she was running.
While these two women made history as “the first female,” they weren’t, at the time, as celebrated for their feat as they should have been. For Marianne Huskey, who last year became the first woman in pro fishing history to win the Anglers Insight Marketing Angler of the Year award, it’s been quite the opposite.
“I remember the head of media at a Minnesota fishing tournament saying to me that ‘there can only be one,’” said Huskey, who is originally from Charlevoix but now lives in Shawano, Wis. “I will never forget that. It’s more than just being Angler of the Year to me. It’s being the first woman in history, bass, walleye or whatever category. It’s definitely brought a whole different level of exposure and excitement.”
For Huskey, one of the showcase speakers at this year’s 68th annual Ultimate Sports Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids March 21-24, earning the award has been a humbling experience, but she said it also has motivated her to take advantage of the heightened exposure in the fishing industry, to promote both competitive and recreational fishing to more women and children.
“It’s a huge responsibility and important for me and my sponsors to be professional on all levels,” she said. “We as pro anglers have to make sure to take the time to sign autographs, answer questions when we can and talk with kids. It’s important that I’m there to help mentor kids but also letting everyone see that the pros out there competing are very approachable to everyone.”
Huskey, who is hosting a Women’s Walleye Weekend for women and young female anglers during the Mother’s Day weekend in May in Winneconne, Wis., is shooting for more Top 10 finishes in this year’s tournament and aiming to eventually win a Pro-Am tournament, as well.
She also will be fishing in grassroots team tournaments and plans to take along a guest angler in one of those tournaments.
“I plan to bring along a youth or someone who isn’t able to get involved with competitive angling on their own,” she said.
At the Ultimate Sports Show, Huskey will be promoting Matzuo America and Lawrence Electronics products during the weekend, such as crank baits, off-shore tackle mini-planer boards and the latest in navigational planning electronics.
She will be on Stage E and F at 4:30 p.m. and at the Lake Ultimate area at 8 p.m. Saturday and on Sunday she will speak at 10:30 a.m. at Stage E and F and 2 p.m. at Lake Ultimate.
The Ultimate Sport Show offers the state’s largest show of hunting, fishing and outdoor equipment and entertainment in the Midwest.
Vendors, including Rhynard’s Pontoons of Greenville, will be on hand to offer the latest in hunting, fishing, boating and gear on the market.
There also will be demonstrations like turkey calling contest and the ever popular Ultimate Air Dogs show, as well as taxidermy and woodcarving displays and speakers, including Huskey.
Mike Andrews, of Rhynard’s, will be showcasing fishing pontoons, which, he said, have been strong in the boating sales market. Andrews said the Ultimate Sports Show is a great way for his business to not only draw in new customers from around the state and nation but also to network with other vendors and dealerships.
“It’s a good event for the whole family because it has a wide variety of things to do and see and try out,” Andrews said. “For us, personally, it’s a great way to network with other companies and reach customers we otherwise wouldn’t through local advertising.”