"Where There Is Way There is Will"

Photo caption: Vince Olzawski participates in the PVAMA tournament in the Disabled Fish-In-Place Bank Division last month. Olzawski ended the day finishing in third place with 33.0 inches of fish.

Where there is a will the tough well find the way. How do you combine fishing and the coronavirus pandemic? Paralyzed Veterans of America and Bill Kokendoffer, president of the Mid-America Chapter, figured out a unique way to accomplish their goal.

In the spring, Kokendoffer thought about having a tournament where the anglers could fish any lake in Oklahoma, with or without someone, and, through Facebook, upload pictures of their catch and judge them. 

Kokendoffer explained, “I made the announcement at our virtual PVAMA board of directors meeting. Three of our board of directors members live in bordering states and they asked, “What about us?” Which led us to revamping the prospect of a “Fish in Place” type tournament. In turn, I was directed to the kayak series fishing tournaments that used a format that, with modification, would work for our Fish-in-Place tournament.”

Several of our anglers fish the Kayak series and were extremely helpful directing me to Dwayne Walley, developer of the Tourney X App.
The Tourney X app allows anglers to fish a given tournament, upload their catch through a photo, have that photo judged and entered into their score board.

Walley thought of everything while developing this app. It has the time the picture was taken, gps locations where the picture was taken, and the availability to add identifier numbers distinguishing a particular tournament.

The app keeps track of everyone’s catch and posts it to a live leaderboard. The app allows each angler enter their chosen tournament and then lets the director of the tournament see who has entered and communicate with the anglers via emails.

Tourney X allows the director to choose the kind of tournament they want, the type of fish that can be caught and the way the catch is to be scored ---either by weight or by length.

“We chose to use length vs weight and to allow us to apply a handicap for anglers fishing lakes that traditionally produces bass well over the 14” (Oklahoma’s minimum) for bass,” said Kokendoffer.

With everything in place and the Tourney X app up and running, PVAMA chose September 19th for their first of a kind Fish-in-Place Fishing tournaments.

“I use tournaments in the plural as we had four different tournaments going on on the same day ---one for the disabled anglers fishing from a boat, one for the abled-bodied boat captains, one for the disabled bank anglers and, for the first time, one for the abled-bodied bank helper/partners. Each of these categories was fishing for their own prize pool”, said Kokendoffer.

On tournament day, there were 27 anglers competing in their chosen fishing spots. We had anglers fishing in New York, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

“As director of this tournament, I rolled out of bed about 0630, turned on my computer and opened the Tourney X app to make sure everyone had checked in. It wasn’t long until a notice would pop up on Tourney X, “3 pictures submitted”, said Kokendoffer.

There were fish from Arkansas, Kansas and thenOklahoma.

 “The next thing I knew we had fish on the board from every state represented. For me, it was exciting to watch as the submissions came in and knowing these anglers were once again enjoying something they love to do.
PVA is looking forward to returning to face to face tournaments in the near future, but they are also looking at adding several of the Tourney X Fish-in-Place-type tournaments to our agenda for 2021."

A big thank you to Mike Schmitz and John Wolf, for their direction and a special thanks to Dwayne Walley for developing the Tourney X app.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America does a stellar job helping our veterans overcome their setbacks and live rich and productive lives, but the PVA is not limited veterans only. You just need to have to a documented physical challenge or be an amputee, some paralysis, etc.

Able-bodied persons can help or be a boat or bank captain. For more information, call the PVAMA at (405) 721-7168 or their Facebook page, Mid-America PVA.
Photo & information courtesy of PVAMA/Muskogee Phoenix

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