The Miami Dolphins hosted their 21st annual Fins Weekend this past Friday and Saturday, continuing the franchise's mission to make a positive impact in the South Florida community, and giving fans and members of the team a chance to enjoy a social atmosphere while raising money for schools in need of support.
This is the third year of a four year, $1,000,000 dollar partnership between the Miami Dolphins and City Year Miami, which is an education-focused nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to help keep students on track to graduate.
It all began early Friday morning at the Miami Beach Golf Club, where players, coaches and front office executives gathered for the Fins Weekend Golf Tournament, where threesomes competed for a once-in-a-lifetime prize: a flight on the team charter for a 2017 Miami Dolphins away game.
"This is an absolutely incredible opportunity, not just for City Year, but for the young people we serve." Keith Fletcher, Executive Director and Vice President of City Year Miami said Friday morning. "You know for the Dolphins, it's never just about writing a check, it's an all-in proposition, and that's evidenced by seeing everybody from players to alumni to executives out here celebrating the partnership, raising money to continue to help the young people in Miami Gardens."
The winners of the tournament were on Team Waste Management and consisted of James Bonillo, Matt Redmond and Brandon White, who partnered up with Dolphins QB Brandon Doughty.
Later that evening, the organization gathered together at the Marine Stadium at Key Biscayne for the annual Fins Friday Night Party presented by South Florida Ford and Hook & Tackle, getting to enjoy a live band, food, drinks, various games and a silent auction.
And of course, there were plenty of Dolphins players on hand that evening, some of whom were still getting used to how consistently the franchise worked and appeared in the community.
"It's my first Fins Weekend actually," said Dolphins DT Nick Williams. "I was with Kansas City last year, and I'm just happy to be here, it's an honor to be here at Fins Weekend around all the fans and all these great players that are here too."
Early the next morning, the main pull of the two day event began as over 50 boats went out to sea to try and capture the largest kingfish, dolphin, wahoo and tuna.
One longtime participant of Fins Weekend - former Dolphins LB Channing Crowder, is well known for his skill with a rod and reel, but his entry into the competition was not particularly impressive. That didn't stop Crowder from having a good time and ragging on his friends who seemed to have much better luck.
"I don't know if those fish are illegal, I don't know what's going on with them," Crowder joked with a wide grin. "Man I don't know what them people did, they caught them yesterday."
Crowder went on and was even willing to tell one of his tall fish tales, which according to Fins Weekend Chairman Jeff Peck, no one has better tales to tell than Crowder.
"Channing Crowder, hands down." Peck said when asked who told the most fish tales. "Boy he can talk a good game, but he walks the walk too. Told me a really amusing story one time, 'cause I saw him come out, he had lures in his pocket, he was ready to fish, and I said, 'I didn't know you knew about fishing,' he (Crowder) said, 'I learned how to run because I used to get chased off of golf courses fishing in the lakes as a kid.'"
As the day came to a close, the winners were announced.
Mark Bonutti was recognized as the top junior angler (10.7lbs kingfish). Martin McKinney caught the largest kingfish weighing in at 32.5lbs, Miami Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano hauled in the largest dolphin (19.9lbs), Mark Baniewicz for the largest wahoo (29.6lbs) and Miami Dolphins LB Mike Hull captured the largest tuna (27.4lbs).
Rounding out the awards podium are first place finishers Jim Castle, Dolphins P Matt Darr, Reggie Dickens, Hull, Martin McKinney and Fran Walenta on boat Getcha Some, capturing a total of 108.8lbs of fish. They joined the Waste Management golf team on the Dolphins charter to an away game.
Fins Weekend was made over two decades ago to give fans the opportunity to hang out with their favorite players and have a great time with them, all in the name of helping out the kids of South Florida and giving them a chance for a good education.
The event succeeds every single year in giving fans and members of the team a fantastic weekend, and also gives everyone a good warm-up for football season which is quickly approaching. No doubt it will continue to do so in the many years to come.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
Latest Dolphins News