Fishing tournament honors McAllister’s passion

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Sometimes the best way to honor someone’s memory is to help others.
That’s what the family of James McAllister has been doing for the last eight years after his death in January 2015. McAllister was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, and left behind a young wife and two little girls.
McAllister’s mother, Marianne Pirolli, and her daughter, Jenny, have worked with one of his friends, Chris Malcom, to hold the MAC Memorial Fishing Tournament & Fundraiser, which raises money to help fund scholarships for Clay High School students.
The tournament, which will be held on Saturday, April 22 at Schroeder Farm Campground, located at 26996 W. River Rd., Perrysburg, has five different prize awards. First place is $1,500, second place is $800, third place is $400, fourth place is $100 and the largest fish is also worth $100. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held Saturday, April 29.
Registration is open to two-person teams for a fee of $50. Spectators are welcome to come free of charge, and refreshments will be provided. Fishing begins at sunrise and the fishermen must check in with their fish at 3 p.m., with the weigh-in beginning 15 minutes later.
“We want this to not only be a fundraiser, but a social event to remember my son’s life,” Pirolli said. “If people knew my son, they loved my son. He was such a likable guy. At the funeral, there were so many people there, it was too much for me to comprehend; it was just overwhelming, he was such a good guy.
“I read a book once, it was about everything bad. But it said that if you look hard enough, you could find something good out of this horrible thing,” she said. “It’s really hard for me every year; sometimes I get emotional because it just brings up all these old memories. I just feel like it’s a type of therapy for all of his friends and family. What a full-of-life person he was. My brother said, ‘I can’t say James lived every day like it was his last, but he packed a lot of life into his days. James was full of life.’
“Chris Malcom, he’s the one that started this up. He did the first tournament, I had nothing to do with the first tournament,” she said. “It’s because of his doing that this got started. We have so many friends and family members that help us put this all together. We would never be able to get this together without the additional help we get from those people.”
The first fundraiser, held in the spring of 2015, was organized to help support McAllister’s daughters, both of whom were under the age of 3 at the time of his passing. Since then, the event has helped provide scholarships for 13 Clay students.
“We’re in the process of picking the scholarship recipients,” said Pirolli said. “We have to pick out who we think is most deserving.”
Jenny wants the recipients to have a similar passion for Clay as James did. (He graduated from CHS in 2002.) “A lot of things that people don’t realize is we have to go through all of the applications for the scholarships and pick through those. I was actually doing that this week, we have 30 applications,” she said. “We have them write a letter about school spirit, and have a teacher write a letter about their school spirit. My brother was very known in school for being a loudmouth, but in a good way. We want to make sure they are active in the school and do things kind of like he would have.”
She notes that the fundraiser, which receives a great deal of assistance from her husband, Shawn, is getting bigger and bigger every year, adding there were nearly 50 teams last spring.
“We do things besides the entry fees to raise money. We have silent-auction items, door prizes for the fishermen, a 50-50 raffle, we sell apparel — different t-shirts, different MAC Memorial ball caps,” Pirolli said. “We feed people free of charge – anyone who wants to hang out with us. We manage to get a whole spread together; I don’t think we’ve run out of food yet. We invite everyone to come down and enjoy themselves. You came down to watch and have fun.”
Pirolli credits Jenny with doing much of the behind-the-scenes work.
For tournament rules and information, visit or the MAC Memorial Tournament’s Facebook page, or call Marianne Pirolli at 419-460-2684. Donations to the James R. McAllister Memorial Fund may be sent to 571 Hollis Ave., Ypsilanti, MI 48198.


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