Posted by: Kristy Tozer on Monday, October 11, 2021

Written by Kristy Tozer LT’18

We are so fortunate to call Champa Bay home! While the rest of the world wonders how our market became lucky enough to have so many Championship teams, we in LTA know that our fellow sports leaders have always been winners… and now many of them have the rings to prove it!

We asked Travis Pelleymounter of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Josh Bullock formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Vipers, as well as Brian Ford of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to share their thoughts on how they each view their role and relationship with Leadership Tampa Alumni, starting with their special memories from Sports Day.  

Josh graduated from Leadership Tampa in 2012 and was working for the Tampa Bay Rays. His class was able to receive unprecedented access to the Rays Clubhouse and even had an unexpected surprise visit from DJ Kitty who was a new and emerging mascot superstar! Travis is a proud member of LT’17 (better known as the GOATs). When reflecting on his class experience, he highlighted the opportunity to showcase the business side of sports to local leaders. Doing so would provide a different “behind the scenes” perspective that would continue to impact class members even today. Brian has been involved with Leadership Tampa Alumni for years. He and the Buccaneers love to co-host sports day, and are very supportive of their leaders participating in LTA. Each year they provide extraordinary insight into their business operations, as well as a few special surprises. 

Brian highlighted the benefits of creating connections that become career-long relationships and building a network that helps participants throughout their careers. “When you need to meet someone or connect with a business, the first people you reach out to are in your LTA network”. Similarly, Travis noted that his focus in joining LT was two-fold. He wanted to gain a better understanding of Tampa’s business community and meet influential leaders throughout the city. He’d also heard that the relationships you make with your classmates last a lifetime and are just as important personally as professionally. Travis said “Reflecting back on our class from four years ago, I am so happy to say that both of these rings true and LT was one of the best professional experiences of my career. The friendships that I made as a result of the class are still with me today and I am very thankful for each of them.” Josh was new to Tampa and the Rays when he applied to LT. At that time, he wanted a deep dive into learning about our community’s needs as well as what it had to offer. He states he was also “excited about the ability to relationship build quickly with so many people so I could figure out how and where to lend my talents to make a difference.”

When asked how important it is for our Sports teams to be represented in Leadership Tampa Alumni, Josh stated that it's extremely important given the public nature of their business and the power each team has to reach a large local audience.  Each strives to help the community and bring people from diverse backgrounds together to rally around positive and uplifting experiences.  When our pro sports teams utilize Leadership Tampa to educate their leaders and further engrain them in the community, they increase their already broad reach by getting to know more and more people and ultimately uncovering needs that may otherwise go unnoticed without the unique access of the program. Travis added that although local teams may be nationally recognized brands, they are also mid-sized organizations that are an important part of our local business community. Their mission is to entertain and make a difference in the lives of everyone in Tampa Bay. He states, “Leadership Tampa provides an important vehicle for our teams to work on this mission. I believe that good teams try to entertain their fan base, but GREAT teams are woven into the fabric of the entire community.” Brian echoed that thought, noting it’s critical that all of our business leaders understand and work together to help lift up our community. 

Finally, we asked what value Sports brings to the Leadership Tampa program. Josh noted that sports and our local teams bring fun and engagement to the program. Sports Day is always a bright spot due to the unique access to such public and high-profile organizations.  Sports teams can support so many individuals and businesses in a variety of ways including (but not limited to):  cash and in-kind donations, unique game day experiences, tickets and suites and mass exposure through advertising and media coverage. Travis responded that he hopes our local teams, and especially the classmates from the Vinik Sports Group, bring a fresh perspective and a different lens to Leadership Tampa. “We certainly want to fit in with our business community partners and learn more about this great region. But we have to appreciate that we represent brands that can extend to do great things. When we do them together, we can really make a difference!”

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with each of our sports teams in various capacities, yet it was only through Leadership Tampa and LTA that I had the opportunity to look behind the curtain to better understand the many facets of their operations, on and off the field. Their constant focus on excellence, in their chosen field and community, is an example we all can strive to emulate. Thanks to them, we are Champa Bay. Every day.