Lakecaster Online

The Gals of Sealy Outdoors
By Ed Snyder

As you call 1-888-698-2591 friendly female voices answer "Hello, this is Sealy Outdoors can we help you, which often becomes your very first pleasantry when gathering information about this popular outdoor hunting & fishing promotions and tournament organization that has attracted the interest of over 100,000 anglers from 32 states and four countries who participated in their outdoor events to win over 40 million dollars paid out these past 20 years in "guaranteed" cash and prizes. But who are behind those pleasant voices answering your inquisitive phone requests? Meet the Gals of Sealy Outdoors.

Office Manager, Keina Morgan, will often become your very first contact when calling Sealy Outdoors as her deep East Texas voice invites and answers your many requests.

"I've been with Sealy Outdoors for five years, Keina Morgan informed, although I'm originally from Port Neches TX, I now reside in Jasper with my husband and family. My position here is to coordinate the tournament dates & scheduling and to assist with the advertising and promotions of each event. Our next event, the Lake Fork Big Bass Splash, offering over $325,000 in cash & prizes, has drawn interests and entries from January since Lake Fork has become our largest tournament of the year. My position requires me to coordinate and order all of the product prizes to make sure that all of the award packages are accounted for and sent to Lake Fork Marine before the tournament. I also field the thousands of tournament entry requests that come in from as far away as New York to Washington State, as well as from the countries of South America, Canada, and Mexico. Just before tournament time, Keina continued, It gets very busy around here with us shifting to 20 hour work-days that will continue until the final day of the tournament. This involves us doing all of the last minute coordination's of tournament sponsor needs, tournament staff accommodations, angler registration, tournament site security, bass weight and angler recording stations, and a curriculum for Bob Sealy's stage events, which entertains the thousands of spectators who will arrive to watch his show during the final hours of this three day long tournament event.

"But despite all the hard work to keep the tournaments operational we do have our lighter moments of fun and humor, Keina stated, recalling a funny incident involving Texas Fish & Game angler, Sam Chamberlain, who arrived to weigh-in a bass. Asking to see his fishing license, Sam promptly started unzipping his pants. Startled, we laughingly stopped him from doing "what-ever" he was about to do and nervously told him thanks, but no-thanks, but we really didn't need to see his fishing license all THAT BAD!"

Donna Lavon Sealy is the business and career manager, as well as wife to husband, Bob Sealy who is President/CEO/Director of Sealy Outdoors. Donna, along with daughter Nicole and son Brandon are the original grass-root employees who helped organize the start of what eventually became one of America's most successful sport-fishing business ventures. But she often goes unseen by the public during the actual tournament events as she busies herself within the tournament trailer office recording the hundreds of daily angler weigh-in slips that must be filed for the daily prize and award payouts.

"I still remember those early days very well, Donna reminisced, as she told of the early years when they operated the tournament from out of their home. Our garage, closets, and home was filled to the rafters with sponsor products and tournament stuff, Donna recalled with a grin, explaining that the entire family spent HOURS upon HOURS sitting in the middle of our living room floor filling the angler tournament bags with sponsor products and LICKING THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of postal stamps to get the angler tournament entry packets sealed and ready for the mail-outs.

"It all started back in 1982, Donna informed, as Bob and I owned and operated Piney Point Plaza. Bob, a bass fishing guide and tournament angler, enjoyed watching the BassMaster tour whenever they were here, so one day Bob decided to coordinate a bass tournament event that would give the same pomp and ceremony given the pros, to the amateur anglers. We, at first, tried a team tournament deal with Burger King as our main sponsor, but Bob soon decided to try an hourly big bass tournament instead and managed to get the supporting sponsorship of the McDonalds Corporation. "BINGO" Donna stated, Bob's new Big Bass concept took root and quickly developed into one of the most popular amateur big bass tournament circuits in America. In fact, Donna incredulated, our McDonalds Big Bass tournament, held in 1993 on Lake Sam Rayburn, drew an astounding 6,776 angler entries that put over 3,500 boats on the lake. Obviously, Donna informed, our tournaments had gotten too big for home-operations by then so we had moved into our new corporate offices located next to Piney Point Plaza. "I'm really a jack of all trades but a master of none, Donna reasoned with a chuckle, as she "splained" that her real job was to actively support her husbands role as CEO of Sealy Outdoors, and to make sure that the tournament operations stay on an even keel.

Asked about her most touching moment within her many years of tournament operations, Donna tearfully recalled Milton Johns, a boiler maker from Mountain Pines AR, who won their Lake Ouachita AR, event. Milton arrived straight from working a mid-night shift and was still smudged from head to foot. Having only enough money to pay for one day, Milton then paid his entry fee and launched his small, battered boat from the bank. It was foggy that Spring morning, Donna remembered, so Milton couldn't go very far out and in fact, was fishing so close that we actually witnessed him catch a 7.71 lb bass that eventually won the tournament. Milton, and his family, didn't have very much, Donna stated, so after the first day of competition he left to work another mid-night shift, and without any rest, Milton returned the next day with his family to see if he stood a chance of winning $300 for a first place hourly payout. That $300 was more money than he was used to seeing at one time, so when Milton suddenly realized that he had "not only" won the $300 hourly check for his big bass, but also won the 1st place "overall" Big Bass prize too. Well, needless to say, the tears flowed freely after we handed him that winner's check for $5,300 cash and the keys to a brand new fully rigged $11,000 bass boat.

"I remember those days of sitting in the middle of our living room floor, stated Nicole Sealy, daughter of Donna & Bob Sealy. An attractive 20-year old college coed now, Nicole literally grew up living within a family tournament atmosphere that witnessed over 100,000 anglers win over $40 million dollars in cash & prizes, which also helped to raise over 4 million dollars for benefit needs of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. "It's been a real blast, Nicole stated, and I wouldn't trade my last 20 years of being with the McBass family for anything. My main tournament responsibility at first, Nicole advised, was to work with our "Little Anglers" groups that fished for crappie, bass, catfish, and perch to win cash & prizes. But now, Nicole stated, my responsibility is recording the anglers names, times, and weights to keep up with the top-10 winners listing for each hour.
When asked about her more memorable situations with the kids, Nicole stated, Our kids fishing contest memories are almost too numerous to recall, but if I had to pick just one, Nicole decided, it would have to be the "duck-billed kid" as one of the more hilarious of a boy who wore a Disney Donald Duck cap. We probably raised that kid as he attended about all of our events, Nicole reviewed with a chuckle, as it was really funny to watch him square off against Bob Sealy and "shovel-up" as much as Bob was "shoveling-down" to him. That kid really kept us, and the spectators, in a fit of "un-controllable" laughter. Our events promote family weekend fun, Nicole finalized, where they enjoy spending quality outdoor time together. This is the reason for the Little Angler's Division, where children come through the weigh-in line grinning from ear to ear as they hold their "teeny-weeny" catches that are often much smaller than the palms of their tiny little hands. And I sincerely "Love" being a part of something that is so good!"
Belinda Gay, wife of Sealy Outdoors tournament weigh-master Roger Gay, handles the weigh-in voucher slips from the stage area as well as helping out with other tournament operations as required. Belinda, a former Bass n'Gal tournament pro/angler, and owner/manager of "Fat Fred's Restaurant & Gas Store" in Hemphill, TX, is also the Sealy Outdoors T-Shirt wizard who keeps up with the sales and operations of the T-Shirt bonus hour of the Big Bass Splash events.
Asked about her most unusual event, Belinda recalled the "empty bass bag incident" remembering a Lake Fork angler who "huffed and puffed" his way up to the stage from 150 yards away holding nothing but a bag "filled" with water. Seemed that the angler was in such a big hurry to get to the weigh-in stage that when putting his bass in the bag HE MISSED and not seeing what happened the angler then struggled up to the stage with that bag full of water! When asked where his fish was the angler just stood there with a very perplexed look on his face as he tried to comprehend his missing bass.
Charlene Boatman, an employee of First National Bank of Jasper, and wife of Texas Parks & Wildlife fishery biologist Carl Boatman who handles the Sealy Outdoors fish recovery system, assists with all tournament operations, which includes recording the incoming anglers as they prepare to weigh their catches. Charlene has also taken over the "Little Anglers" division responsibilities from Nicole Sealy as she now handles the children's weigh-ins at all Big Bass Splash events.

Andrea "Punky" Gay, the 20 year old daughter of Belinda and Roger Gay, assists Charlene Boatman with the Little Anglers division children as they bring in their catches and also helps Nicole Sealy with the top-10 listings of the hourly big bass weights. Andrea is also a "soon to be" Angelina College Graduate of nursing who loves to work with kids.
Sealy Outdoors goal as a promotional company is to create outdoor contest events that benefits worthy causes and puts the average hunter and fisherman in the same limelight as the professionals. Sealy Outdoors has directed many events, such as Oilman Classic's, NFL Skeeter/tournaments, Anheuser Busch tournaments, Tracy Byrd Celebrity big bass tournaments, Burger King tournaments, Boy's Haven events as well as McDonalds Big Bass Splash, Team Splash, and Big Trout Splash saltwater events, as well as Mega-White Tail Big Buck contests for the hunters.
"If you were to take a walk through a children's hospital today, Donna Sealy counseled, when walking down the hallways you'll realize that the children around you are afflicted with leukemia, cancer, or other catastrophic diseases. These children are so seriously ill that they probably don't stand a chance of making it over a period of time. And you can just imagine the parents who can't afford to stay in a hotel room for weeks and weeks to be near their loved ones. The Ronald McDonald Houses are not boarding houses but have all the comforts of a home as when you have 10 or 12 couples that are staying at a Ronald McDonald House, it also serves as a healing place where they can counsel and comfort each other as they are all experiencing the same traumatic situations.
For more information on Sealy Outdoors, and their hunting & fishing events, call (409)-698-2591-Fax-(409)-698-2616- -E-Mail or write to Sealy Outdoors--POD-5431--Sam Rayburn, TX. 75951.

Mother & Daughter grass-roots team, Nicole and Donna Sealy, coordinating the upcoming Lake Fork Big Bass Splash

Belinda "Wizard" Gay helps this Big Bass angler with recording his big bass cash-catch
< photos by Ed Snyder >

Keina Morgan often becomes your first contact as "Hello, this is Sealy Outdoors, can we help you? answers your inquisitive phone call

A touching "Take-Five" moment between Donna Sealy and Bob Sealy of "Sealy Outdoors"
Andrea "Punky" Gay (center) and Charlene "Gotcha" Boatman (R) help this Lil' Angler with his crappie catch

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