A display about the LA84 Foundation, biographies of LA84 President & CEO Renata Simril and LA84 President Emeritus Anita DeFrantz, and photos of dozens of African American Olympians are each part of a just-opened, four-floor exhibition being held inside Los Angeles City Hall.
The exhibition is titled “2017 African American City Hall Tour: A Ten Year Retrospective of African American Heritage Month Exhibitions At City Hall From 2006-2016.” The show began Feb. 1, 2017 and is scheduled to conclude March 17.
Among the well-known athletes included in the exhibition are action photos or medal-stand photos of: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Evelyn Ashford, Valerie Brisco-Hooks, Florence Griffith Joyner, Virgil Hill and many more. The images come from the extensive LA84 Olympics archives.
The LA84 section of this four-story City Hall exhibition is located on the third floor of the iconic civic structure, near the rotunda, and a short walk from city council chambers. The exhibition is open to the public from 9am to 5pm. Other Olympic items on display include two flags, a plaque, an Olympic torch, and a permanent inscription on a high wall.
The city’s Department of Cultural Affairs in a recent publication described the entire show like this: “This year we are witnessing the end of President Barack Hussein Obama’s two-terms of extraordinary service as the country’s first African American president; the centennial birth of former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the city’s first African American Mayor; and the continued civic service of Los Angeles City Council Member Herb J. Wesson, Jr., the City’s first African American Council President. The exhibition features these leaders as well as former First Lady Michelle Obama in addition to African American elected officials serving Southern California, executive level city employees, the Los Angeles Association of Black City Attorneys, the 1984 Summer Olympics, From Where We Come (selected artworks from the collection of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey), and narrative art from past exhibitions.”
Members of the public are also invited to utilize the online, free-of-charge LA84 Foundation Knowledge Center, repository of some 90,000 documents and other items.
Tuesday morning, LA84 President & CEO Renata Simril moderated a high-level discussion about “The Transformative Prospects of L.A. 2024 Olympics.”
The conversation opened the second and final day of the 10th annual VerdeXChange conference. The event, held in Downtown Los Angeles, brings together among the region’s leading planners, politicians, civic leaders, developers, environmentalists, journalists, think tank officials and others. The VerdeXChange Institute and conference are run by publisher and leading urbanist and ecological thinker, David Abel.
Simril’s appearance at the VerdeXChange podium was preceded by remarks by Gene Sykes, CEO of the LA2024 bid. Simril was then introduced by Gail Goldberg, Executive Director, Urban Land Institute-Los Angeles. The LA84 President & CEO promptly guided a quartet of expert panelists through a wide-ranging conversation that – while focused on the Olympics and how it can so positively affect Los Angeles again, as it did in 1984 and 1932 – included talk about public transportation, new pro sports teams and stadiums, zero waste initiatives and other green topics, infrastructure, development in Inglewood and elsewhere, city planning and technology.
Simril leads the LA84 Foundation, the most significant youth sports legacy organization in American history and a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and public education about the role of sports in positive youth development. The foundation, with 32 years of on-the-ground experience, has supported thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grantmaking, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues. LA84 levels the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, while elevating the field of youth sports as an integral part of American life.
Photo credit: John Dlugolecki / Dlugolecki Photography
A 1968 gold medalist and pioneer of strategy in an Olympic event. A two-time gold medalist sprinter. A four-time Olympian in the shot put. A coach of the world record holder in the decathlon. Dick Fosbury, Monique Henderson, Ramona Pagel and Harry Marra were only four of 13 experts that taught over 275 high school Track & Field coaches at LA84’s Advanced Level Coaches Clinic on Saturday, January 28 at Cerritos College.
Attendees took in a keynote from Marra, coach of decathlon world record holder and two-time gold medalist Ashton Eaton and three-time silver medalist heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton, before heading to four sessions taught by experts from across the Track & Field community. What the LA84 Foundation is doing is terrific,” said Fosbury, the Olympic champion in the high jump at the 1968 Mexico City Games and inventor of the “Fosbury Flop” method of high jumping. This is great to work with coaches to help them be the best that they can when they’re working with our youth and future Olympians and world champions.
The clinic is the second of the LA84 Foundation’s three winter Track & Field clinics, all of which are available to coaches free of cost. LA84 has hosted free coaching clinics in Southern California since 1985, and has trained over 80,000 coaches. “The experience, as always, was tremendous. I was very genuinely privileged to be allowed to participate,” said Dr. Jeffrey Messer, a presenter and department chair and faculty in exercise physiology for the Exercise Science Department at Mesa Community College.”
LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril spoke to the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday morning, discussing the powerful impact and lasting impact of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Addressing the Councilmembers and a spirited crowd at Los Angeles City Hall, Simril’s marks noted how the legacy of the 1984 Games created the LA84 Foundation, which has invested over $250 million and served over 3 million youth in Southern California communities. Other speakers included LA 2024 Olympic and Paralympic bid Chairman Casey Wasserman, LA 2024 Director of Athlete Relations and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Janet Evans, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and over 50 Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
The Council voted unanimously, 13-0, in favor of giving final approval on the completion of LA 2024’s bid application to the International Olympic Committee. Olympians, Paralympians, political and community leaders were in attendance at City Hall and a following event at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles has hosted two prior Olympic Games, in 1932 and 1984, the latter of which saw 40 percent of its surplus go toward establishing a youth sports nonprofit that is now the LA84 Foundation.
“The excitement here today shows that LA’s passion for the Olympic Games burns strong! Fueled by the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, LA84 continues to impact lives through the power of sport,” Simril said.
“We need the Olympics, too,” Garcetti said. “Think about the Australian Open. The legacy of the ’84 Games invested in this town. And two young girls in Compton learned about tennis, and today they’re both in the Semifinals. Imagine leaving that legacy for the next generation of Angelenos.”
“The Olympic Movement can be a powerful beacon for equality and unity,” added four-time gold medalist sprinter Michael Johnson. “The Olympics offer us a long history of societal inclusion, and bring us together like nothing else can. That’s the power of Olympic sport.”
You don’t have to be a Super Bowl champion to yell “I’m Going to Disney World!” For the Eagle Rock Eagles Middle School Flag Football team, a trip to the land of Disney is only the side mission as they travel to compete next week in the 2017 NFL FLAG Championships at the Pro Bowl in Orlando. The 12-man Eagles, all 8th graders, will represent the Los Angeles Rams and the city of Los Angeles on the whole as the 2016 Flag Football City Champions after winning a city-wide vote. The Eagles play as a team under LAUSD’s Beyond The Bell, a grantee program of LA84 that provides free after-school sports program in every LAUSD middle school.
On Thursday, LA84 mascot Sam the Eagle and Ron Brown, Rams legend and 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 4 x 100-meter relay, were among those in attendance at an school-wide assembly to honor the Eagles for their achievements and to wish them luck as they at the championships, which take place January 27-30.
“It was a dream for me standing atop the podium in 1984,” said Brown, referring to his 4 x 100-meter team that set a world record time at the Coliseum 33 years ago. “If all 12 of you buy into each other, you’ll make great things happen.”
“LA84 has done such a great job of providing good coaches and giving us a support system,” said Eagles head coach Ritchie Samayoa. “This trip is an extra cherry on top. Without LA84, this wouldn’t have happened.
LA84 has funded the Beyond The Bell program since its inception in 2000, and has seen the program expand to see higher participation among girls and bring on new sports, such as rugby, tennis and track & field. The program provides coaches across every sport, and provides its athletes a structured, safe after-school option. Every program in Beyond The Bell is available free of charge for middle school students, an example of LA84’s mission to eliminate financial and logistical barriers to playing sports for youth in Southern California. ”
“Sports are a critical part of being a kid, growing up and learning that through hard work, education and discipline, you can be a champion,” said Anne-Marie Jones, LA84 Vice President, Grants & Programs. “I think we see that right here with the Eagles.”
LA84 provided the entire middle school student body with backpacks, while the team received jerseys and other gear from the Rams as they prepare to face 39 of the nation’s best flag football teams. “I felt like crying. I was so excited that we won,” said Eagles team member John Lasamaya about the team’s opportunity. “The best part has been having our friends support us all the way,” added teammate Julian Montelongo.
The Eagles will begin pool play on Friday, January 27. From then, they will look to advance to the knockout round on January 28 and the championship game on January 29, the day of the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
Two LA84 Foundation SAMbassadors took part in the 32nd annual Kingdom Day Parade, joining thousands of Angelenos on Monday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The two youth ambassadors, 16-year-old soccer and cross country athlete Raymond Taylor and 14-year-old soccer and volleyball player Angelica Taylor, joined members of the Olympic family to carry the banner for the LA 2024 Olympic bid. They were joined by a pair of Olympic hurdling medalists, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Mark Crear, in LA 2024’s procession through the parade’s route in South Los Angeles.
Members of organizing committees involved in the Beijing 2022 Winter Games visited LA84 on Monday, commending Los Angeles’ Olympic spirit and expressing goodwill to the LA 2024 Olympic bid. The group, members of both the Group Office of Hebei Province for 2022 and the Zhangjiakou Operation Center of Beijing Organizing Committee for Olympic Games, learned about the LA 2024 bid in a presentation by Peter Tomozawa, LA 2024’s Vice President and Executive Director of Partnerships and Board Relations.
The group also met with Dragomir Cioroslan, Director of International Strategies and Development for the United States Olympic Committee and bronze medalist weightlifter in the 1984 Olympic Games. “I remember the standing ovation the Chinese delegation received when walking into the (L.A. Memorial) Coliseum in 1984,” Cioroslan said. “We are excited to keep working with China in the Olympic Movement.”
The group, which included Beijing 2022 deputy directors Li Min and Li Pu, also viewed a torch and other artifacts from the 2008 Beijing Games, China’s first hosted Games.
Even on a cloudy Monday morning, spirits were bright for four Angeleno student-athletes as they celebrated the New Year in style. Four youth ambassadors, representing the LA84 Foundation, rode alongside Olympians and Paralympians on the City of the Los Angeles and the Los Angeles 2024 bid’s “Follow The Sun” float at the 128th Rose Parade on January 2.
These ambassadors also joined more than 500 volunteers in decorating the colorful float, which featured a sand volleyball court and a reconstruction of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of the opening ceremonies of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games.
The four riders embodying LA84 and its ideals on the float were 18-year-old SaraJoy Salib, water polo athlete and Outstanding Academic All-American award recipient, 17-year-old Rafael Lopez, LA Galaxy Special Olympics Southern California Unified Team member, 14-year-old Kayla Novak, a cyclist, tennis and track & field athlete at Redondo Union High School and 11-year-old Ezra Frech, a record-holding track & field parathlete.
“I had only been on the other side of the TV screen,” said Novak about the opportunity to take part in the parade. “When I was told that I would be riding on the float, I couldn’t stop my excitement from coming out. I feel bad for my cat because I was so excited that I picked her up and squeezed the living daylights out of her!”
“I really loved seeing all the people so excited for our float. There were people waiving, clapping and screaming the entire parade! It was really fun getting to wave and interact with the crowd,” Frech said about his experience.
Alongside these youth riding the float was a delegation including LA84 President Emeritus Anita DeFrantz, Olympic legends Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner, and Paralympic long jumper Lex Gillette, who also inspired an awestruck crowd at the 2016 LA84 Summit.
“I gained knowledge from spending time with all the Olympian athletes, and also proudly represented the foundation that helped me participate in the parade,” Lopez said about his experience at the parade.
The youth are inaugural members of LA84’s Student Athletes in Motion (SAMbassadors) Program, a group of Los Angeles-area youth aged 11 to 18 who are actively engaged in sports, civic advancement and symbolize LA84’s mission in transforming lives through the power of sport. Established in 2016, the SAMbassadors are an advisory board to LA84 and offer valuable input on grants, programs and activities.
“What a successful morning on the float with my fellow SAMbassadors,” said Salib on a day she and her three fellow ambassadors won’t soon forget.
“The LA84 SAMbassadors do serious, important advisory work for our Foundation,” said LA84 President and CEO Renata Simril, who attended the parade, along with her family. “So it was great to see SaraJoy, Rafael, Kayla and Ezra out there having so much fun, with such big smiles, hanging with Olympians, and representing all 27 of their Student Athletes in Motion peers so well. And having Anita DeFranz aboard that float as well? Just wonderful!”
Four student-athletes will be taking an active part in the 2017 Rose Parade, representing the LA84 Foundation as part of the City of Los Angeles’ float on January 2, 2017. The youth ambassadors will ride with and walk alongside Olympians and Paralympians atop the “Follow the Sun” float, created in partnership with the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, and will embody L.A.’s commitment to sport and healthy living. The float will also emphasize L.A.’s rich Olympic history, including the successful 1984 Games that funded the establishment of the LA84 Foundation.
Inaugural members of the LA84 Student Athletes in Motion (SAM) program, the four ‘SAMbassadors’ are youth aged 11 to 18 who are active in sports, civically engaged and personify LA84’s commitment to the transformative power of sports and represent the next generation of athletes and leaders.
Established in 2016, the SAM program brings together youth from all corners of Los Angeles County to serve as an advisory board and offer guidance on grants, programs and activities.
“I can’t wait to join hundreds of millions across the world in watching these student-athletes, the future difference-makers of Los Angeles, be able to represent their city and the Olympic movement. All of our SAMbassadors embody this year’s Rose Parade theme; they have transformed their lives and are inspiring positive change in their communities through sport. Participating in the Rose Parade is an incredible opportunity for these emerging young leaders to create their own ‘Echoes of Success’” said Renata Simril, President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation.
The four SAMbassadors riding the float include 18-year-old SaraJoy Salib, water polo athlete and Outstanding Academic All-American award recipient, 17-year-old Rafael Lopez, LA Galaxy Special Olympics Southern California Unified Team member, 14-year-old Kayla Novak, a cyclist, tennis and track & field athlete at Redondo Union High School and 11-year-old Ezra Frech, a record-holding track & field parathlete.
“I am proud to be a SAMbassador because it has opened doors to new experiences. I’m also happy to be riding the float because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be able to participate in such a prestigious parade!” said Lopez, a senior at Huntington Park High School.
There are currently 27 SAMbassadors, many of whom will take part in decorating the float on the morning of December 27, 2016 at Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale, Calif. The SAMbassadors are actively involved in the foundation’s community presence, including conducting a panel at the 2016 LA84 Summit, volunteering for LA84 and grantee events, and meeting quarterly to share ideas on and plan ways to positively impact youth sports in Southern California.
The Olympians and Paralympians who be riding the float along with the four youth include Nadia Comaneci, 1984 Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, Lex Gillette, Howard Shu and Candace Cable, all of whom have been involved in recent LA84 summits and convenings.
The “Follow the Sun” float will include a replica of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. Three Los Angeles-area Olympians – 1984 Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, Janet Evans and Allyson Felix – have been named the 2017 Grand Marshals of the Tournament of Roses. Sam the Eagle, the official mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games, helped to introduce the three Grand Marshals in November at a ceremony hosted on the Tournament House lawn in Pasadena.
Originally known as the Amateur Athletic Foundation, LA84 was established using a portion of the surplus of the 1984 Games. A youth sports non-profit, the foundation has served over 3 million youth and trained over 80,000 coaches across the eight counties of Southern California since 1985.
As a legacy of the 1984 Olympic Games, the LA84 Foundation continues to be a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and elevating the importance of sports in positive youth development. LA84 seeks to provide an opportunity for every child to participate in sports and experience the wide range of positive outcomes associated with youth sport participation. Since its launch in 1985, LA84 has invested millions in the communities that supported the Games, reaching more than 3 million youth throughout Southern California, from Santa Barbara to San Diego County. The LA84 Foundation continues to promote the spirit of the 1984 Olympic Games by convening and engaging local, national and international audiences about the role of sport in society, and the impact of the Olympic Games on host cities, especially as we look ahead to the 2024 Games. LA84’s headquarters is located in the historic Britt House near downtown Los Angeles, where it houses meeting facilities and the world’s premier sports library. For more information, please visit www.la84.org.
Nearly 1,000 Los Angeles area middle-schoolers ran a two-kilometer race at the 2016 LA84 Run4Fun Festival at the scenic Elysian Park on Saturday, December 10. Students from across the Los Angeles area, from the West Valley to Orange County, competed in one of six races, one for each gender and for grades 6, 7, and 8.
The event kicked off with a speech from LA84 Foundation & CEO Renata Simril, who praised the racers for their hard work in training since October for the race. Sam the Eagle, the official mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, announced the start of the opening race, the Girls’ 6th Grade competition. On a foggy morning, the athletes ran a deceptively tough course that started out as a downhill, but had a final ascent to the finish line. 2016 was the second year Run4Fun was hosted at Elysian Park, with 2015 being the inaugural race.
LA84’s Run4Fun program spans 10 weeks during the fall and introduces middle-schoolers to distance running while providing coaches with benchmarks and drills to teach their students the values and benefits of running.
“It taught me to be disciplined and how to be a leader, and now I can pass it on,” Global Education Academy Middle School Coach Miguel Medel said. Medel, who participated in the Run4Fun Program for three years in the mid-1990’s, saw one of his athletes break his two-kilometer record on Saturday. “What I’m teaching them here, I want them to use it outside and in their lifestyles.”
The Run4Fun Program has been a staple of LA84 Foundation programming since its inception in 1987. 2016 marked the 28th edition of the Run4Fun Festival, with multiple generations of Angelenos staying fit and experiencing the incredible benefits of distance running, both on and off the course.
“It feels so good to have all your hard work pay off,” said Eider Martinez, who won the 8th-grade race and had the fastest time of the day at 6 minutes, 19 seconds. “Being an eighth-grader can be hard. But when I’m running, everything just feels better.”
LA84 also offers swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming through its Summer Swim program, and multiple other sports through its partnership with LAUSD’s Beyond The Bell program. “Running is the focus for now, but it’s so valuable since you’ll need it for every sport LA84 has to offer,” Medel added.