Cooking up a winner

MILFORD, Conn. — Sylvia Morris wakes up every day around 3:30 a.m. to start packing lunches, and then she cooks their breakfast. Throughout the day, she prepares their dinner and has it ready for them so they won't have to wait for a table at a restaurant.

 The Milford Black Bass Club member has catered to the anglers of the Connecticut state team for 17 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Eastern Divisionals. Morris went to 16 of the divisionals because her husband, Jim, was on the state team, but when Jim failed to make the 2007 squad, Sylvia still cooked for the team.

 "I love to cook, and they appreciate it," said Morris of her labor of love. Working as a head waitress in a restaurant has given Morris ample training for serving large groups, and she is used to having big dinners, thanks to being raised in an Italian family. When she is at home, Morris fishes club and open tournaments and serves as her club's secretary, treasurer and tournament director. She also organizes banquets for the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Federation Nation.

 Morris volunteered to be the team cook about 20 years ago when Connecticut had scant funds for its state team. "I told them I could pack lunches and I could make breakfast in a motel room with a toaster," she recalled. "Now we have everything. The Federation has pretty much bought the equipment and it travels with me. We have our own pots, pans, dishes and silverware."


People who make the team for the first time can't get over how much she does for us.
— Paul Carter

 Her menu for the state team is planned months in advance based on a food form the anglers fill out after they qualify for the team. "I need to know about allergies and anything they don't like," said Morris. "I am like their mother."

 Her home cooking has put a charge into the Connecticut anglers as they have won the Eastern Divisionals for two straight years. After taking over the first-day lead in this year's divisional, the anglers were treated to a dinner of meatballs and pasta, salad and two homemade Italian pastries — cannoli and sfogliatelle. While the Connecticut anglers were fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee that day, Morris and the team alternate spent their day rolling 150 meatballs for the team's dinner.

 "She's an absolute inspiration to the entire team," said Paul Carter, Connecticut's president and a member of the 2008 state team. "She goes overboard for all the team members. People who make the team for the first time can't get over how much she does for us."

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