Sports Day
Leadership Tampa Bay

May 14, 2024

Written by: Stephen Gerhard, 2nd Wave Development

On Tuesday, April 23rd, LTB “24K Gold” Class of 2024 took to the field for Sports Day! The day’s line-up featured visits to the Trop, Amalie Arena, USF and Raymond James Stadium.

The Best Class Ever started the day in St. Petersburg with a wonderful breakfast courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ryan Helfrick of the Tampa Bay Rowdies led off the vaunted speaker rotation. Ryan shared the history of the Rowdies, Tampa’s oldest professional team, and discussed the impact of having a waterfront soccer-specific stadium, Al Lang. Ryan wrapped up his pitch by thanking LTB, past and present, for their continued support. Ryan passed the baton to the Rays’ President, Brian Auld. The former 4th grade teacher took to the mound to discuss the plans for a new stadium, the importance of job security within their organization, and the honest truth about success in sports. The class was then invited to the field for a group photo and general high jinks.

Following a few memorable moments on the field, The Class loaded the bus for their first rip across the Bay. The cohort was met by statues of Dave Andreychuk & Phil Esposito on the plaza at Amalie Arena before going coast to coast and landing in the Cigar City Tap Room. Matt Corey, CMO of VSG, lit the lamp and shared the inside scoop on the Bolts’ content and messaging strategy. He also gave The Class a little more context on the growth of the Lightning brand in Tampa Bay. Amalie Arena staff then took them deep into the barn to provide a behind-the-scenes look at one of Tampa’s busiest entertainment venues. Shout out to the concert and events team at Amalie.

After a rowdy tour, they boarded the bus for the nicest indoor athletic facility in the Country, no bull. Ok, maybe just one. LTB 24 was given a spirited welcome from Rocky and his entourage. The entire staff of the Green and Gold showed out. Caylee Cottrell hosted a panel discussion with Jonathan Gibson (Chief of Staff), Kris Pierce (COO), and Dominica Jones (Director of HR). Topics included the new football stadium and athletic department master plan, their approach to creating a world-class athletic program, and the impact of the community around the school. Also, if any LTB Alumni wants to sponsor an athlete, please contact Mercedes Sapp at for more information on Name, Image, and Likeness partnerships. (Yes, she comes from a sports family.)

After touring the facilities, it was time to hop on the A-Train (Academy Bus) and raise the flag. Having no fear, Captain Fear met The Class at the East Stadium Club of Raymond James Stadium. Class members were allowed to take pictures with Tom Brady’s plunder from 2021. Brian Ford, COO of the Buccaneers, kicked-off the conversation by heralding the importance of taking care of staff and retaining people. Seminole Heights resident and CMO for the Pewter and Red, James Ruth, took the hand-off and shared how the Bucs are using Creamsicle to connect the culture of Tampa Bay football with the next generation of fans.

Super Star Christina Unkel, President of the Tampa Bay Sun Football Club, rounded out the afternoon. Unkel delivered a passionate message about Tampa’s first Women’s Professional Sports team. Play begins in August of this year, Chase the Sun.

After an incredible rotation, your favorite class ever boarded their chariot for the day’s last stop, a Rays home game. This day highlighted why all should be proud to call Champa Bay home.



The Leadership Tampa Bay class year begins in September and runs through May. Each year, the Board of Directors organizes 11 class days that focus on regional issues and opportunities. The agenda for each day consists of panel discussions with business civic and government leaders, questions and answer sessions, and facility tours. In addition, each class member participates in both an opening and closing retreat and a two-day Tallahassee Trip.






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