Fraternity hosts ice fishing tournament

Submitted by Madeline Mapes

Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Phi Chapter, at South Dakota State University held their very first ice fishing tournament January 15, 2024. 

Brother Emmet Bickett was one of the many brothers from the Chapter who helped organize the event. He said the Chapter usually holds a tractor pull in the fall, but lately the event was losing traction and was becoming harder to put on every year due to their equipment getting older, among other issues. The Chapter put it to a vote and decided to stop hosting tractor pulls and after some brainstorming, Alpha Phi Chapter decided that an ice fishing tournament would be the perfect replacement. 

“Being an agriculture-based fraternity, a lot of our members are fond of the outdoors,” Brother Bickett said. “We started tossing around the idea of doing an ice fishing tournament … it makes it a lot more accessible to anyone wanting to participate.” 

The tournament this year originally had about 30 teams of two registered to participate, but due to inclement weather, only roughly 12 teams participated. Brother Bickett said they even had teams from Nebraska that were supposed to come up and participate but got snowed in and were not able to make it. The tournament took place in minus 45-degree weather and participants couldn’t bring ice houses on the lake due to the ice being too thin. Temporary shacks and tents were used instead. 

“The tournament occurred on January 15, right when that cold stretch was hitting and so we were facing the decision – do we postpone? Do we move it? So, we worked with South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks, and we decided to go forward with the tournament,” Brother Bickett said. 

Despite the setback, Brother Bickett said he felt the event went well for the first time and gave the Chapter ideas for growth in the future. 

Prior to the event, Alpha Phi Chapter had planned on donating the funds leftover from the tournament to support veterans, but due to the lack of participation, they only had enough to help cover costs of the event. 

Luckily, many of their grand prizes were donated, which helped them keep costs down. The grand prizes included were a customized ice fishing suit (which was roughly $1,000.00 value) donated by Striker Ice, a couple hundred dollars in gift cards donated by Scheels, and customized fishing rods donated by EJB Custom Rods. 

Brother Bickett said next year, he hopes to have a couple of contingency dates in case the weather or another issue arises. He said the chapter looks forward to next year’s tournament and hopes to be able to donate to support veterans in whatever way they can.