Big fish catch big dollars for Maine community colleges

Representatives of the Sturdivant Island Tuna Tournament today announced one of their biggest hauls yet: $35,000 in donations to five Maine community colleges.

Capt. Peter Speeches displays the winning fish in this year’s Sturdivant Island Tuna Tournament out of South Portland, weighing in at 329.5 pounds. (www.facebook.com/mainetuna)

The annual August tourney out of South Portland’s Spring Point Marina has raised more than $335,000 for the community colleges in its 15 years. It was launched initially to drum up a $100,000 endowment for nearby Southern Maine Community College, but has easily surpassed that goal.

SMCC now has a $140,000 endowment from the big fishing competition, generating enough yearly interest for six $1,000 scholarships to students at the South Portland school.

Tournament organizers are steadily raising money for similar endowments at Central Maine Community College, Northern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College and York County Community College as well. Ultimately, they’d like to have $100,000 endowments built up at all seven of the state’s community colleges, with the Kennebec Valley and Eastern Maine schools added to the list in future years.

Said SMCC President Ronald Cantor in a statement:

The steady and generous support that SITT has shown SMCC over the years has helped many students gain an education and get a job in the Maine economy. With low annual tuition of $2,580 for our full-time Maine students, those scholarships are immensely helpful. We’re very grateful for SITT’s continued aid, particularly in this challenging economy.

At the tournament this year, several catches tipped the scales over 200 pounds, but the biggest behemoth of the bunch was Capt. Peter Speeches’ nearly 330-pound monster tuna. I’ve seen some well-built guys using every ounce of energy reeling in 250-or-so-pound blue sharks before, and I can’t even imagine what it would take to bring a 330-pound fish on board.

About 40 boats paid $400 apiece to participate in the tournament, which was founded by the Grondin family of Sturdivant Island before outgrowing the Casco Bay outpost.

Phil Grondin, Sr., president of the tourney, said this in a statement issued Friday:

It’s fun and we’re able to help some students get an education at the same time. We didn’t expect it to be so successful, but it really has been.

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Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.