Sixth Clay Roberts Memorial Scholarship awarded

In memory of a son, Clay’s Tournament draws others grieving similar losses

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

FWC 2010_01A lot of memories are made on the water, mused Gary Roberts, founder of In River Or Ocean. The nonprofit organization, founded in 2007 in memory of his son Clay, promotes Clay’s passion for fishing and love of the water and awards scholarships to Bishop Kenny High School students who most closely fit Clay’s profile, emulating his spirit and values.
“The students must be a varsity athlete, with at least a 2.0 GPA,” said Roberts. “After that, it’s up to the teachers and peers to identify young men and women who most closely match Clay’s personality. The students don’t apply, and it’s a surprise to us each year.”

This year the sixth four-year $1,000 scholarship was awarded to [name] at Bishop Kenny’s Awards Night on May 23. Roberts’ daughter Casey, 21, presented the award.
This scholarship, unlike most, is not limited in how it can be used. “If someone going to school out of state, or out of country, needs to go home, this can help with those expenses,” Roberts explained.

The annual tournament draws people for a variety of reasons. Many are friends of Clay, who died in a tragic fall the last semester of his senior year at Bishop Kenny in 2007. Others have also lost a child and share the same burden of grief. One annual angler only just recently shared with Roberts that he too had lost his son, but didn’t want to burden Roberts with his own grief.

“When something like this first happens to you, you think you’re the only one to have suffered this kind of loss, but there are a lot of people out there grieving,” said Roberts with a catch in his voice. “The tournament helps bring these kinds of souls together.”

Charter captain Don Dingman lost his son in 2004 and started a foundation and a television show, Hook the Future, which promotes fishing with children. Dingman was introduced to Roberts through the Jacksonville Offshore Sport Fishing Club and now Hook the Future Foundation will provide some of the prizes for the Junior Anglers competition in the 6th annual Clay Roberts Memorial Inshore Slam Fishing Tournament (see below).

FWC 2011_03“This is our sixth year for the tournament and we’re at a crossroads to take it beyond what we’ve done the previous five years,” said Gary Roberts, owner of Roberts’ South Bank Pharmacy and father of Clay Roberts. “Although it’s mostly men in the tournament we do have couples, so we hope to add a separate women’s division next year.”

Clay Roberts Memorial Scholarship Winners
• 2008: Sean Brown
Merchant Marine Academy
Class of 2013

• 2009: Thomas Lemmon
University of North Florida
Class of 2014

• 2010: Brendan Coster
Flagler College, Class of 2015

• 2011: Stephen Clark
Averett University, Class of 2016

• 2012: Rose Walsh
University of Notre Dame
Class of 2017

• 2013: Hunter Parry
LeGrange College
Class of 2018

To learn more about entering this year’s tournament visit http://www.inriverorocean.org/

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