This is the second in a series on the women who are married to Georgia’s Big Sticks. We are interested in what it’s like to have a husband who is fishing sometimes as much as he is working–and particularly on tournament weekends. These ladies give us an ‘inside look’ of what it’s like to married to a great tournament fishermen. We also learn about their interests–where they work and what they do for enjoyment (besides attending tournament weigh-ins).
This week we focus on Jessica Duvall, wife of Georgia Big Stick John Duvall (see our previous post to learn more about John).
Jessica Duvall, wife of John & mother of Laney, with a big one she caught. Jessica told georgiabigsticks.com that, “As you can tell, I am not a big fan of touching the mouth of a fish, that’s why I’m using my sleeve to hold it.”
GBS: Where did you do your growing up?
Jessica: Actually, I grew up in Hoschton, Georgia, near Jefferson. I was in the Jackson County School System from second grade on–and graduated from Jackson County School System.
GBS: So, what about after high school?
Jessica: Oh, man, let me tell you! I went to Kennesaw State, Gainesville State College and then to Athens Tech, where I finished as a medical assistant. It was a lot of moving around and a pretty crazy time. My parents divorced when I was in college.
GBS: So when did John come into the picture?
Jessica: I guess I met him in there somewhere. I was 20 and he was 21. We met on a blind date–and I guess I started college after we met. I was living in Athens and he was living in Greshamville, where we live now.
GBS: Any brothers or sisters?
Jessica: I have an older brother, who is about four years older than I am. He lives in Nebraska. I also have two step sisters and they live in Maryland with my Dad. My Mom lives in Winder.
GBS: Tell me about the day you met John? Do you remember it?
Jessica: Oh yes, trust me! I remember the exact day! I met him at Kohl’s in Athens on a blind date. I was coming from Winder and he was coming from around Madison. I figured it was a safe place (laughing). We went to The Varsity to eat. Then we went to see Blindside, one of my favorite movies. I knew it the second I met him–and it scared the crap out of me. I was thinking, ‘now why am I having all these feelings’ since I just met the guy on a blind date. But I knew it then–and he may or may not admit it (laughing)–but it was probably love at first sight!
GBS: Who set you up with John?
Jessica: My best friend, who was in our wedding, met John at a tractor pull in Liberty and her roommate at the time (at North Georgia) knew John from way back.
GBS: So when you did get together, you knew it was the real thing?
One of John & Jessica’s first fishing trip’s together back in July 2010.
Jessica: (Laughing) This is the fun part! We dated probably a few times and then little 21-year-old John Duvall thought ‘I’m not ready to settle down’ yet–so he, like, stopped talking to me for about six months. Now, if you talk to me, he came running back–but if you talk to him, he’ll say I came running back! But when we did get back together, we were inseparable after that point.
GBS: Now you guys live pretty close to John’s folks, right?
Jessica: (laughing) Yes, we live right next door. We live in his grandmother’s house.
GBS: I met his Dad Billy at a tournament a couple of weeks ago. In fact, by winning the tournament, they took some of my money (maybe it’s going to little Laney’s college fund). When you fish against the Duvall’s, you’re usually fishing for second place!
Jessica: (laughing) You know, they have a “full-time job” as they say, but when fishing comes up, the full-time job gets put on the back burner.
GBS: Sounds like they’ve got their priorities straight.
Jessica: Well, last week I met a couple that knew John, although I didn’t know they knew him. They put two and two together and they said “So you’re married to local professional fisherman,” and I thought, “yeah, I guess I am.” I don’t think I will get tired of hearing that.
Jessica & John at their wedding, May 25, 2013. Giving away the bride was Jessica’s dad, Bob LaBanz.
GBS: Well, was he fishing when you met him?
Jessica: Yes! He always jokes around and goes “remember, the boat was first!” (laughing) John had been fishing long before I came along.
GBS: Spoken like a true fisherman, I have to admit.
Jessica: Yes, that’s for sure.
GBS: Now, how does it work for you on his weekend tournaments?
Jessica: I used to travel with him when we didn’t have a child (the Duvall’s have a young daughter, Laney), but you know, we have a wonderful house and live between his parents and his brother and sister-in-law and we’re really happy when we’re home. I feel fine if he leaves and if he stays. If it makes him happy, that’s the main thing. We did go to the All American and boy was that fun!
GBS: I heard that the family went along.
Jessica: Yes, his folks went along. It was very cool–and at a whole other level. I really enjoyed it.
GBS: It’s the ultimate tournament for a fisherman to qualify for.
Jessica: Yes, and we had a lot of local guys qualify for it It’s a blessing to be there, and a big opportunity. You’re right where you want to be.
GBS: How have things changed since Laney came into your lives?
Becoming Momma & Daddy. Little Laney Duvall enters the world with Mom & Dad looking on.
Jessica: Well, Laney has been a huge blessing to both of us. She loves her Daddy! Of course, she loves her Daddy. She has a collection of frog baits that she plays with–
GBS: Without the hooks, I hope?
Jessica: Yes, of course, without the hooks.
GBS: Speaking as a dad with three grown daughters, I know that Dad’s usually get to wear the white hat!
Jessica: Yes, exactly! That’s so true. I worship the ground my Daddy walks on. We’ve always had twists and turns in our relationship, but he’s always been one of my biggest fans and I’ve always been his biggest fan. I’ve told John, enjoy this time with Laney, you’ll always have it.
GBS: Tell me a little about your work?
Jessica is the office manager at Greensboro Sports Spine Wellness in Greensboro. She said she loves the job and the people she works with.
Jessica: Well, I’m the office manager for Greensboro Sports, Spine & Wellness. The business has two offices, one in Greensboro and one in Milledgeville. I work for two great doctors that love and respect me. They are Godly people–and that’s such a blessing.
GBS: Tell me about your work with Rodan & Fields [for you fishermen out there, R+F is one of the world’s leading skin care products companies].
Jessica: I started it last August just to earn a little extra money and supplement my paycheck. It’s been a big blessing for our financial freedom.
GBS: Do you fish with John?
Jessica: The only time I go out with John is when we do couples tournaments. I just go and enjoy it. I’m not really a competitive person, but when I’m around John and we’re in these tournaments, my competitive side comes out really big! I’m on the back of the boat saying
John & Jessica fished together in a couple’s tournament in 2015 and came away with the prize for the biggest fish.
“okay John, we’ve got to win, we got to catch em” and I feel like I’m sort of coaching him (laughing). I can tell when he’s struggling and not catching them and then I say something like “why don’t you do what you know you should do, why don’t you go up the river?” and sure enough he’ll go up the river and start catching them. I tell him “you’ve got to stick with your basics, honey”.
GBS: That’s great advice. We sometimes get away from fishing our strengths–and that usually doesn’t work out real well.
Jessica: Well, he usually knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s really good at what he does. And when he’s doing it, it makes him happy–and that makes me happy!
GBS: What’s it like being the wife of a Georgia Big Stick and tournament professional?
Jessica: Well, we’re really blessed. In all these tournaments we have so much support for John and we’re so thankful for that. It’s definitely not something that every person dreams of, like kids who want to be professional baseball or football players, you don’t hear about too many that want to be professional fishermen. It’s been a learning experience for me,
John Duvall, also known as Jessica’s husband, is one of Georgia’s top tournament anglers. He qualified for the prestigious All American Tournament in 2016.
but it’s also been a joy for me to see John grow so much and have so many people that love and adore him. He has supportive people who have gone ahead of him and want to see him go far. I want him to be able to succeed and at some point I hope to be able to travel more with him. It’s really a matter of us continuing to pray and of course, God’s timing is involved. He’ll be there when he’s supposed to be there.
GBS: Who are your heroes in your life?
Jessica: Well, God is one of them. I trust in Him to help me along the way through the ups and down of life. I also have to say that John is one of them.
GBS: Any other outside interests?
Jessica: I love interior design projects. I wish I had more time to do that–but it’s hard with a two-year old! I really enjoy doing that.
GBS: Jessica, thanks so much for taking time to talk. Best of luck to you and your family–and I hope to see you down the road at a tournament.
Jessica: That sounds good. Thanks!
Photos courtesy: Jessica Duvall