Sporting Life 10K Team Captain Profile: Steve Pimentel

steve standing with another runner at sl10k

Steve Pimentel is a long-time Sporting Life 10K team captain. With 11 years under his belt, Steve shares with us some of his key learnings about how he motivates his team and how he raises as much money as possible.

Campfire Circle: Steve, you have spearheaded two successful Sporting Life 10K corporate teams. What’s your secret?

SP: You’ve got to build your team. You never do these things by yourself. Yes, you have a captain and you have members, but it’s never about one person. As a team captain, you bring motivation and leadership, but you always build a team. You need to have people who are really great at recruiting and people who come up with great ideas for fundraising, and so on.

The best idea we ever had was to ‘pie an executive in the face.’ I never came up with the idea. Someone else said it. And we went with it. It was the biggest (and most stressful) thing we ever did.

We had 10 executives with people lined up in groups of three. People were nuts about it! They paid a lot of money, too. In 30 minutes, we raised $2,000.

But I was just the facilitator. And that’s the biggest lesson for me: that you build a team. Allow others in and the rest will happen naturally.

people getting pied in the face

CC: You’ve been a team captain for 11 years now, what keeps you coming back?

SP: It’s kind of a unique experience. You have people on your team who are senior vice presidents or directors, but everyone is the same. It equalizes everyone. You’re on a mission, together. That’s the best part.

I’ve met so many great people along the way. You begin the process with no expectations. But then later on, people come up to you and say, ‘My kid went to this camp. Thank you.’

Another part of it is helping people be active and engaged. I ran as a kid. I’m a decent enough runner to lead others who didn’t know how to run. People’s lifestyles have changed after this experience.

One year, this person on my team walked the entire 10K. And I thought, ‘Oh no. She hated it.’ But I saw her afterwards and I asked her how it went, and she said she loved it. For fun, I asked her if she placed and she said she came in dead last. As in, out of 20,000 people, she came in 20,000th place. She said, ‘I was walking and they were taking stuff down. I was proud I did that.’
So there’s always a cool and surprising story that comes out of it. That’s why I keep coming back.

team photo at sl10k

CC: What is your connection to Campfire Circle?

SP: Many years ago, I read a Globe and Mail article about then Camp Ooch and Sporting Life. I knew about Sporting Life; all the runners did. But I didn’t connect the dots about Camp Ooch. I realized: this is a camp for kids with cancer. And that blew me away. ‘Kids have cancer?!?’ I thought. I couldn’t believe it.

At the time, I also had young kids, and we were looking into activities for them – swimming, skating, you name it. And then I thought, imagine that your kid has cancer. I couldn’t think about what my kids would be going through. But I knew that as a parent, I would at least want camp for them. And that’s how I got motivated.

CC: What would you say is your main role as a team captain?

SP: People would joke that they didn’t know if I was working or not. They couldn’t believe how much time I was putting into this.

At the peak, I was communicating daily. But I would say you have to communicate at least weekly, at a minimum. Twice a week is ideal. I always started the week with a recap of the weekend, and the ‘Happy Friday!’ email is the most important one. It outlines what we are planning on doing the following week and reminding people who is doing what.

As a team captain, you’re basically helping people. You have to show them the way and provide continuous recognition. It’s really important. You don’t have to say, ‘way to go.’ All you say is ‘this person raised $300 this week.’ Done. Everyone is blown away by that. That helps build momentum.

team photo at sl10k

CC: What are some of the challenges as a team captain?

SP: The challenge is wondering if it’s going to work out. It’s awful to be in sales. You have the product and the marketing. But you just don’t know. And that’s the hardest part: the wait. But it does works out. You just have to see it through.

I also get asked: how do you fundraise? And I tell them it’s really easy: make it personal. One to one. Don’t send out your email as one big campaign. Go and connect with your friends and let them know what you’re up to. And people were shocked. I had one person who raised $300 and she thought she couldn’t raise $10.

CC: What are your tips for other team captains?

SP: I would say, have a simple goal. Don’t think that you have to win. Forget about winning. There’s no pressure. Whatever you can contribute makes a difference.

It’s not just about dollars. One part of it is about raising money. But it’s also about raising awareness, making a difference and trying to get people active.

Engage with people and enjoy it. Set the goal. Everyone gets something out of it.

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