By Phil Friedman, Correspondent
The Daily Breeze
As you look out on the court at Staples Center Friday night, you will see Laker Girl Stefanie. She embodies what Laker Girls director Lisa Estrada and the Laker Girls are all about. Beautiful young ladies, who put in endless hours on their routines to entertain throngs of Laker fans.
The Laker Girls are dedicated to making a difference in their communities, participating in everything from events encouraging youngsters to read to Christmas fishing trips for homeless children. The Laker Girls are smart, beautiful, hard-working and civic-minded ladies.
It’s hard to believe when you watch Stefanie perform her routines or help a child to read that deep down she is also a hard-core angler.
Stefanie grew up in Alaska, where fishing is second nature.
“Everyone, men and women, fish and hunt in Alaska,” Stefanie said.
Her father, Lewis, loved fishing more than anything and the fact he could do it with his daughter made these angling excursions even more special. Lewis had a plane that transported them to some of the most remote and beautiful parts of our 49th state.
Stefanie was 6 months old when her father took her on her first fishing trip. With that first trip with her father, she was hooked. Fishing became the activity the two could do together. Sometimes they would make a day of it and other times the adventure would last several days camping out in the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness.
“My dad would fish all night long,” she said. “It’s as if he just couldn’t get enough.”
Stefanie even had a favorite spot.
“I don’t even remember exactly where it was but it was like an enchanted garden with clear water with beautiful boulders,” she said. “I just loved being there, and my dad knew it.
“If I didn’t feel like going fishing, all my dad would have to say is, `I’ll take you to your favorite spot.’ The next thing I knew, we were in the plane.”
She has compiled a great list catches that include numerous king salmon to 30 pounds, halibut to 70 pounds, a 30-pound lingcod, trout, even a shark.
“I just love to be on the water,” she said. “There is nothing more beautiful and peaceful than a day on the water,” the Laker Girl said.
But for the 23-year-old beauty , the best thing about fishing is the time she spent with her father.
“It (fishing) gave us something to do together,” she said. “Fishing made us and has kept us close through today and beyond.”
Although Stefanie says her heart is still in Alaska, it’s only there for the summer.
“It’s just too cold for me now,” she said. “My dad said I was made for Southern California.”
Fish talk: “Sportfishing Saturday” with Philip Friedman airs at 9 a.m. on KLAC (570 AM) and will have Bart Hall and Mike Lum as guests from the Fred Hall Fishing, Tackle and Boat Show this week. They will be discussing all the great sights and sounds of what many call the greatest fishing show on earth, set to open March 4 at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Matt Simmons also will be part of the show to talk about a memorial fishing trip for his father, SWAT officer Randall Simmons. The trip is scheduled for Feb.28 out of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach.