Learning from the Best
No matter how experienced you are at something, there is always someone who can teach you more or complement your skills with their own. Working with a team to complete a project is a great way to learn and be a better +wood-piler.
My apologies for the break since my last post. It’s been a very busy time as we held the 19th annual Knights of Columbus Walleye Classic, the largest event I’m currently involved in. It not only took up all my time the last couple of weeks, but was also an opportunity to take a little break from writing and just think about woodpiles for a bit.
For our area, the Walleye Classic is a pretty big deal. One hundred 2-person fishing teams compete in a one-day live-release fishing tournament with a top prize of $12,500. It’s very competitive, but also showcases a wonderful community of anglers who know and respect each other very well. I’ve been honored to get to know them even a little through this tournament.
It’s also a community festival. We estimate that easily 1800 people visited the Lake Bemidji waterfront over the course of the day to not only cheer on the anglers but play a ton of kids games, enjoy great food and beverages, win prizes, and have a lot of fun together.
Oh, and we raised over $63,000 for the eleven different charities that worked the tournament last year. We absolutely could not do this tournament without those group’s cooperation on many levels.
WHY A TEAM
The Classic (KCWC) is run by one of the best teams I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. Fifteen committed volunteers, most of whom signed the committee hat pictured with this post, put in gobs of time over a year to make this a premier event.
Why is working with this team so important? Well, for starters, there’ s a lot of work to get done! As much as some folks like to suggest otherwise, involving that much community in raising that many dollars for that big of an event doesn’t happen easily or overnight. We showed that in the Hockey Day Minnesota series.
It’s also not our goal just to have any old fishing tournament or just to raise money. We have to do it RIGHT! That means a premier experience for our anglers, a meaningful volunteer opportunity for our beneficiary organizations, and a really fun time on the waterfront that our neighbors want to return to next year.
We’ve been deliberate about putting the right mix of people together for the KCWC Committee. By carefully selecting people with the skills we need, the time to make an impact, and a clear ability to build woodpiles, we build something more than the sum of our parts.
We back each other up. We find new ways to get things done. We share our energy when it’s a needed and valuable commodity. And we have a heck of a lot of fun together!
WHY THIS TEAM
I’m not kidding when I say this is the best event committee I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of a team that has so much to offer.
Most of us have been together for the four years the tournament has been run by the KC’s. Some of our members have been there for the full 19 years of its existence! Whether one year or nineteen, everyone on the group puts in the time, shows leadership for their area of responsibility, and in the end is more than a contributor.
The best, most valuable part, is the way each of these members truly get the mission of the event. We aim to host the premier one-day charitable fishing tournament in Northern Minnesota. There is no compromise. To that end, each member of the committee owns that mission – they challenge each other, constantly search for improvements, and hold each other up to the standards we need.
HERE THEY ARE
I can’t do this topic justice without introducing you to each of our members (even though it will take a while). Here’s just a little bit about what each of them does and why they are an important part of the team. It’s not the full story by any means for any of these folks, or what value they bring, but it’s a start to understanding the kind of diversity it takes to pull off our event.
Dan V – Dan V has been with the tournament the longest and plays many critical roles. Rules meeting MC, tournament launch-master, weigh-in team member, and so much more. The most important part, however, is his institutional knowledge of the tournament. He is critical to making sure we all understand the history and purpose of the tournament and what it means to be a top-tier event. We couldn’t have taken this event on without his leadership!
Phil – When we need someone to do a certain task and get it done fast, Phil has been critical. With a career in law enforcement and investigations, Phil is also fantastic at pulling together different perspectives and resolving conflicts. He’s also our clear voice of conscience on matters of ethics. Not to mention he knows EVERYONE!
Claude – As our registration chair, Claude is our front person for making sure that the tournament field fills up every year. Let’s just say it hasn’t been a challenge getting 100 teams signed up in record time! He is also experienced managing process and putting together a group of people to get a job done effectively. When we need to sign in 100 teams at the Rules Meeting in 40 minutes, Claude is the guy to organize that and get it done.
Dan P – Another of our long time committee members, Dan P represents one of our critical volunteer/beneficiary organizations. He’s also an angler in the tournament, which is an important voice to have. When we need to know how the anglers will react to changes, or to get their feedback on how things went, Dan has his ear close to the ground. He’s also handy with a filet knife when the need unfortunately arises.
Mike – Also a tournament angler and beneficiary rep, Mike plays a low key role in the tournament. That’s actually kind of needed – someone who can walk into the room at just the right time and bring a little calm to our planning meetings. He’s also well known as a hard worker and has a history of marshaling resources for the tournament when we need them.
Terry – One of the most dedicated, organized and straightforward people I know, Terry plays a couple of different roles for the tournament. Not only is he in charge of one of the biggest fundraising aspects of the tournament, the raffle, but he is a key leader in running our growing family and kid activity area. That’s just a little hint as to why he’s also one of my best friends.
Robin – In case you were expecting to feel sorry for the only woman on our committee, don’t. Robin does her job of representing her charity and helping lead raffle ticket sales with a ton of joy and mirth. Yes, I said mirth. She gives as good as she gets, and we have a lot of laughs along the way. And thanks for making Scott help, too!
Pete – One of our new members also has a fantastic business mind and experience, which has been great for securing sponsorships. He’s also great at focusing in on the core of an issue and making us solve it. On the other side, Pete is great at the work/family balance thing and has helped me stay on top of that a bit better.
Brent – As a weigh-in team member, Brent has brought some needed process and technology skills that helps make our weigh-in systems work. He’s also got some handy experience with other committees and events that mirror our efforts. Brent’s easy going manner finds just the right time and place to bring up new ideas, helping keep everything fresh.
George – George has the thankless task of trying to keep our books in order. A former educator, he’s also “been-there, done-that” when it comes to various event and fundraising techniques, which can help us keep our ideas real. And when there’s a spare second, George has a video or story of his family to share that always lifts our spirits.
Jake – As our college-student project manager intern, Jake has been great to have on the team – I wish we could have him back next year! He was always willing to take on any task, figure out the best way to do it, and quite often had solutions for other challenges as well. If you’re looking to hire a project manager, let me connect you! (Don’t screw it up, Jake!)
DJ – Our unofficial tournament engineer, DJ is a workhorse. As half of our waterfront site development team, he’s always designing and creating solutions for problems we didn’t even know we had. Not only that, but he did a technical write-up of our set-up process that could make a pro engineer blush. I love sitting back and watching his mind work through a problem.
Doug – The other half of the waterfront team, Doug brings a critical contractor’s perspective to the effort. A dedicated and skilled craftsman, he’s extremely generous and let us take over his shop when we really needed it. He’s also finding ways to spread the work effort out over time, which is helping reduce the crush of activity that happens right at tournament time.
Chris H #1 – Yeah, we have two Chris H’s. This one, going by alphabetical order, is also a tournament angler and leader of one of our up and coming tournament beneficiaries. Chris is absolutely willing to use whatever considerable resources or connections are at his disposal to improve the tournament. Even though he isn’t a KC, he is a dedicated family man and Christian that is also helping keep us all on the straight and narrow.
Chris H #2 – This Chris has been leading the charge on one of the key reasons we are a community festival and not just a fishing tournament – the family activity area. He’s proven pretty resourceful at it, too. When plans changed late in the game, he was completely up for finding new ways and people to get the job done. Even if it means pitching his family into the fray – ha!
WISH I COULD TELL YOU MORE
Wow! All that, and I’m still not doing these folks justice. Thank you, guys, for making such a fantastic impact on our community. Thank you as well to all their family and friends that not only put up with them being absent working on the tournament, but supporting them in their efforts. And from the bottom of my heart, guys, thank you for making such an impact on me.
What’s the best team you’ve ever been on, and why? Tell us in the comments below.