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It is not uncommon in 2020 for professional athletes to turn their off-court passions into a business. It is a special sight, however, when an athlete utilizes that business to make a real impact in the community and the lives of others.
With more than eight NBA seasons and an NCAA championship under his belt, Lance Thomas is a name that basketball enthusiasts know well, but not all fans may realize that Thomas has long been passionate about another highly-competitive sport: fishing.
During his time as a student-athlete at Duke University, Thomas went fishing for the first time with best friend Kenjuan Nichols. While the connection wasn’t instant, the sport grew on Thomas.
“That first time, I remember not wanting to touch worms, or the fish, or anything really,” Thomas remembers. “But soon I started to love it. When I played in New Orleans, I began to really throw myself into the culture of being outdoors and fishing, which is such a way of life there, and once I did that, it was over with.”
A natural competitor, Thomas soon became attracted to the world of competitive fishing and founded the Slangmagic Fishing Team in Venice, Louisiana in 2017. The team regularly competes in competitions throughout the Gulf of Mexico in pursuit of winning a Blue Marlin tournament, one of the most prized fish in the sport. And now the NBA player and his team are becoming a group to watch.
Winning tournaments is not the only goal of the organization, however. Thomas and team launched a project this past Thanksgiving to benefit the children of Covenant House in New Orleans: a shelter for homeless children and adolescents. The Slangmagic team, along with a few professional chefs, caught and prepared enough seafood to host a seafood Thanksgiving dinner for over 100 residents of Covenant House.
“The kids of Covenant House have been through a lot and might even be numb to the holidays just because they have never had that love or connection to the holiday season. So just to see them enjoying themselves and to see them smile that much, it is definitely worth every second of the work we put into it,” said Thomas.
Their biggest effort in the realm of giving back, however, comes in the form of the Slangmagic Youth Ambassador program, where fishing enthusiasts under the age of 18 are selected to undergo leadership training through the Trust Your Work Foundation.
“Currently, we have 12 boys and girls from all over the country,” Thomas says. “Going into 2020, we’re going to be selecting 12 more. The application process starts on our website on January 15th. It will be open until February 15th. We’re going to close it down and we’re going to select the next 12 on March 1st.”
With projects like their ambassador program and the dinner with Covenant House, Thomas, and their team have laid the foundation for many more philanthropic projects on the horizon.
“We’re looking to hit the ground running in 2020 with more give-back efforts that we want to do. Stay tuned.”
Learn more about Slangmagic