UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Team Citgo races ahead toward another bright season

Team Citgo races ahead toward another bright season
Team Citgo

Leads competition on team diversity

Although the number of professional bass fishing teams on the FLW Tour continues to grow at a very impressive rate, it is a pretty safe bet that no other team has put together a more diverse squad of bass anglers than Team CITGO.

For starters, Team CITGO is one of the few teams that currently include a female angler - Lucy Mize of Ben Lomond, Ark. - on its roster. In addition, Team CITGO also boasts Marty Fourkiller, a Native American hailing from Cyril, Okla.; Brian Coleman, an African-American from Louisville, Ky.; and Darrel Robertson of Jay, Okla. - the reigning Ranger MI champion and recent fifth-place finisher in the 2000 FLW Championship in Shreveport, La.

But this eclectic and talented group doesn't end there.

Team CITGO also has its share of youth - 30-year-old William Fletcher of Memphis, Tenn., who has been tournament fishing only since 1994 - as well as its fair share of savvy veterans - Robertson and 50-year-old Sterling Williams of Pine Bluff, Ark., a mainstay on the professional bass fishing tournament scene since 1972.

The team even has a television star in Daniel Keyes of Manchester, N.H. who plays himself in nationally televised commercials to promote CITGO and bass fishing.

A truly representative group

In short, Team CITGO is the face of America.

And to be sure, that is no accident.

"I think we feel that our anglers genuinely represent the demographics of our customers in a lot of ways," said CITGO marketing representative Ron Harness. "We are really trying to make a grassroots effort to connect with our customer base. And I think our anglers are doing a good job of helping us build upon that relationship. They are a very diverse group of people, but more important, they are all very capable people - both in their fishing accomplishments and in their promotion of CITGO."

In fact, CITGO officials are so pleased by their involvement with the anglers and the FLW Tour that they plan on increasing their level of participation at the beginning of the 2001 FLW season.

"We're looking at doing a lot more things this year with our sponsorship and our anglers," said Harness. "It's been somewhat of a learning experience for us all over this past year and we'd definitely like to get more involved. Specifically, we're looking at using our anglers more. We'd like to market them more prominently and get them involved directly with our marketers and distributors. We're going to do everything we can to make our team as visible as possible. And that's good for our anglers and it's good for Team CITGO."

Fourkiller said that he is grateful to be part of the team and that he expects big things in the future.

"The team concept really came about last year. And it has really taken off since then," said Fourkiller. "We started off slowly but I think we've really progressed over this past year. Now we're talking about doing Team CITGO trading cards, more autograph sessions and even more promotions. It's really exciting. We really have a lot of good ideas as to how to promote the sport. And as far as Team CITGO goes, I think we're probably one of the most advanced team out there."

Fourkiller also notes the positives of having such a diverse and talented team.

"We probably have one of the most diverse teams in the sport right now and I think that's good," said Fourkiller. "Our team members come from all over the country. We have a lot of different backgrounds and all of us get along really well. It's made for a good mix. Things seem to be working out really well."

Diversity has paid off

Mize, one of the most accomplished female anglers on the tour today, agrees that Team CITGO has been beneficial for all parties involved.

"Well, it's just been a great experience," said Mize, who turned in a hard-fought 12th place-performance in the final overall standings on the 2000 EverStart tour. Mize also recorded the highest finish for a woman on the EverStart tour this year as well. "The publicity has been great and the people have been really nice."

Mize also says that Team CITGO's decision to attract anglers that represent all segments of the society is paying off.

"It's unique to see a see a woman who is part of a fishing team," said Mize. "When I'm traveling on the road with my boat, people definitely take notice. I've been stopped many times by people who want to ask me questions about fishing and about the team. CITGO has definitely put together a diverse team and I think that shows that CITGO is a diverse company."

Coleman says he is pleased with the team concept to date. However, he said Team CITGO members have some big plans for the future as well.

"Right now, it's going great. When you're on a team you get a lot of benefits. And you also get a chance to give a lot of things back to the community," Coleman said. "We're also working to make the team concept even better than before. For example, we're working on developing team competitions in the future. Instead of competing individually, we would like to compete in bass fishing tournaments as one team against another. I think that would be a lot of fun."

Coleman also notes that Team CITGO's diversity is a real plus.

"We're a really close-knit group of people," he said. "And we've got to be one of the most diverse teams out there. I mean, we've got myself, Marty and Lucy. We have anglers from Arkansas to New Hampshire. And we've got young guys and older guys. I think all teams should be that way."

CITGO officials said the anglers have been a joy to work with and continue to contribute to the partnership on many levels.

"We get great ideas from our team members all the time," Harness said. "They've really helped make this partnership a success. And even though we're relatively new at this (Team CITGO wasn't officially formed until the beginning of this year), we're very pleased with what we have seen so far. It's just a fantastic opportunity for all of us."

In addition to Robertson, Mize, Fourkiller, Coleman, Keyes, Fletcher and Williams, Team CITGO members also include Frank Ippoliti of Frederick, Md., and John Sisemore of Farmington, Ark.

Tags: gary-mortenson  article 

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