SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – Sometime before the sun rises in the East and the moon fades into the horizon. That’s when the Parkway Fishing team hits the water. It doesn’t particularly matter what body of water, either. On this particular morning, it’s Black Bayou. On other mornings, it’s Toledo Bend. On the morning of the biggest competition of the year, it was Caddo Lake.

“Our first tournament of the year, we zeroed,” said Bradley Virgillito, the coach of Parkway’s fishing team. “Our goal for the state championship at Caddo was to just catch something to bring across the scales.”

They brought something across the scales, alright. 30 pounds and three ounces of fish. A number that many life-long fisherman may never tally on their own, let alone in competition.

“I still can’t believe we did that,” said rising freshman Alexis Virgillito, Coach Bradley’s daughter and one half of Parkway’s fishing super-team. The other half, rising sophomore Taylor Bacot, can’t help but be a little proud of her team’s accomplishment. “It’s hard not to be a little cocky,” said Bacot through a smile. “You don’t make history all the time.”

Bacot makes a solid point. Becoming the first all-girls team to win a high school fishing state championship anywhere in the country is pretty special. And it’s not the only history the team made this season. They became the first all-girls team to win a North Louisiana high school state fishing tournament and the first to win a Bass Federation event in the nation. That’s a lot of history for one fishing season. It’s also a lot of pressure for two high school girls breaking barriers in a male-dominated sport.

“I think it shows girls can do anything boys can do,” said Alexis. “It means a lot to inspire other girls to maybe give this sport a try.” If anything, these accomplishments hammer home the simple fact that talent doesn’t have a gender, says Coach Virgillito. “The fish don’t care who’s on the other end of the line, male, female, they don’t care. They just eat the lure if you put it in the right spot.”

“The fish don’t care who’s on the other end of the line, male, female, they don’t care. They just eat the lure if you put it in the right spot.”

Bradley Virgillito, Parkway Fishing

It also may be easy to point to the team’s success and assume that both Alexis and Taylor are cut-throat competitors. Not so fast, says Coach Virgillito. “Our goal every tournament is the same: catch fish, have fun, and whatever happens, happens,” said Coach Virgillito. After all, it’s that fun first attitude that makes all the hours on the boat enjoyable, according to Alexis.

“It would be kinda awkward if we didn’t get along and we fished together,” said Alexis. She’s right. It definitely would be. So how do they keep things fun on the boat? “We joke around. If someone casts bad, we make fun of it,” says Bacot. “We try and laugh and focus on the fun. If we focused on the bad, we wouldn’t really want to keep doing it, now would we?”

So between poking fun, there’s early morning naps while Coach Virgillito drives the boat, there’s chuckles when lines get stuck in trees, and the most valuable thing of all? The shared love of the sport between the trio.

“To be able to do this with my daughter, it’s very special,” said Coach Virgillito. “She’s my outdoor girl and since she could walk, she’s been in the boat with me.” Bacot’s love for fishing was formed at an early age, too, sharing in the sport with her grandfather. “I could sit out there all day and just watch him fish,” said Bacot. “Just spending that time together means everything.”

And ultimately, that’s what the Parkway Fishing team focuses on. The time spent together, doing the thing they love the most.

Currently, Parkway Fishing is competing in the Student Angler Federation National Championships on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.