Weaving a thread between youth sports and the cultural heritage of Los Angeles Little Tokyo District. Teaching at-risk youth the water safety skills that save lives. Eliminating the cost barriers for young athletes to pursue their dreams on the tennis court, softball field or archery range. The common bond of these activities: Support from the LA84 Foundation, which today awarded nearly $1.7 million in grants to 14 school-based and community youth sports organizations.
LA84 has been a game-changer in youth sports for over 30 years, investing over $230 million in Southern California’s communities. Through LA84’s dual emphases on afterschool sports programming and reaching underserved youth in these grants, more than 25,000 young athletes will join over 3 million youth impacted by LA84’s work and mission.
“In a time where we need to come together more than ever to keep our youth engaged, active and healthy, sports give us a common bond and a way to invest in our future leaders. LA84 is proud to support grantees that empower youth to accomplish anything they put their mind to, on and off the field,” LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril said.
So, where are LA84’s grantees changing lives?
Head to Little Tokyo, where a $125,000 grant completes a community project decades in the making. The Budokan of Los Angeles facility will offer two gymnasiums for martial arts, volleyball and basketball leagues for underserved youth in the surrounding neighborhoods. Through sport, the diverse communities of Downtown Los Angeles and beyond will converge as young athletes pursue their dreams.
“I would like to thank the LA84 Foundation for its support of the Budokan of Los Angeles project and for partnering with LTSC to expand sports and recreational programming for youth in the Downtown region,” said Dean Matsubayashi, Executive Director, Little Tokyo Service Center. “The Budokan project will help to fulfill many unmet needs within the area, plus help to improve the overall health and well-being of local residents, particularly for those who don’t have access to affordable recreational opportunities.”
In Downtown, South and Central Los Angeles, Street Soccer USA is creating a pilot program for a league for homeless youth. A $75,000 grant will help launch the program, bringing hope and a support system to the youth and their families who need it most.
Now continue east to Whittier, where a $45,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whittier gives 12 elementary schools and their students a much-needed afterschool sports program. In a Service Planning Area where two-thirds of children are not obtaining the recommended amount of exercise, a new door of possibilities opens.
Ride north to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, where hundreds of low-income third-graders learn how to swim as part of their school curriculum thanks to a more than $60,000 grant. These young swimmers learn skills invaluable skills and take home vital knowledge to share with their family and friends. Knowledge that can save lives.
As for the next Pat Summitt or Dave Roberts? LA84’s $39,000 grant to the Positive Coaching Alliance will train over 1,500 coaches in 2017. As the nation’s most significant Olympic legacy organization, LA84 has trained 80,000 coaches. The foundation also hosts the world’s premier sports library and digital resource center, with more than 4 million downloads in 2016.
LA84’s free online coaching resources give everyone a chance to immerse themselves in sport, just like two programs within the Los Angeles Unified School District. LA84’s $500,000 grant to the Beyond The Bell Program enables every single LAUSD middle school student to participate in team sports without paying a dime. Over 12,000 kids across LA can play any of nine sports – boys, girls or co-ed – ranging from basketball and soccer to rugby and flag football.
At LA’s BEST, 193 LAUSD elementary schools offer not only afterschool sports, but summer leagues. Established by Mayor Tom Bradley in 1988 as an afterschool haven for youth in low-income areas, a $375,000 grant helps LA’s BEST put more than 12,500 kids on the right path. Play Rugby USA, recipients of an LA84 grant in excess of $77,000, will also continue to work with LAUSD schools and other partners to introduce youth across Los Angeles County to a sport they may have never discovered otherwise.
The Southern California Professional Golfers Association Junior Tour is making their sport more accessible for teenage girls in Riverside and San Bernardino County, while the Southern California Tennis Association develops youngsters’ love for the sport. The West Valley Eagles Youth Football Association serves youth in the San Fernando Valley, while the Long Beach YMCA, powered by a $75,000 grant, offers archery, skateboarding, cycling, surfing and kayaking programs. Students Run LA, recipients of a $125,000 award, trains students for the LA Marathon, while Catholic Charities of LA puts nearly 2,000 youth from underserved areas into organized soccer leagues thanks to a $25,000 grant.
One player, coach or mentor at a time, LA84 and its grantees will continue to cut a wide swath of positive impact.
About the LA84 Foundation
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. With 30 years of on the ground experience, 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, like the official Facebook page, follow @LA84Foundation on Twitter and Instagram, or subscribe on YouTube.
Steve Brener/Alyssa Hankins, BZA PR on behalf of the LA84 Foundation
A capacity crowd filled the LA84 Library on Wednesday night for a ‘Game Changers’ panel featuring author Molly Schiot and an all-star panel of women pioneers in the sporting world. A celebration of Women’s History Month in March, the panel featured Schiot; Skateboarding Hall of Famer Laura Thornhill Caswell; table tennis world champion and legend Kim Gilbert; and Violet Palmer, the first female NBA referee. Moderated by ESPN’s Elika Sadeghi with LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril giving opening remarks, the 100-plus attendees in the crowd heard stories of struggle, confusion, hard work and triumph from the panelists about finding success as a women in the male-dominated sports industry.
“You’re inspiring someone whether you know it or not. Engage. Don’t be careful. Get out there and do it,” was Caswell’s note of audience to the crowd, many of whom where members of event organizer Women in Sports and Entertainment Los Angeles. “If you can dream it, you can be it,” added Palmer.
The night also featured Schiot signing copies of her new book, Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History, an image-centric piece that sheds light on female athletes and figures whose sports journeys blazed the trail for modern women in sports. Most of the research for the book was conducted at the LA84 Library, with the foundation’s Knowledge Center offering an unrivaled look at the history of women in sport. “I’m excited to be back at the LA84 Foundation Library, where I did 99.9 percent of my research for my book,” Schiot said earlier in the week. “I’m grateful to LA84 for providing me such an extensive resource for women’s history.”
Schiot’s motivation for putting together the book stemmed from her experience as a director. As she pitched story ideas to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, she found that her episode concepts featuring women pioneers in sport were constantly turned down. She began an Instagram account, The Unsung Heroines, as a way to spread knowledge about women whose accomplishments heavily outweighed the recognition they received. “The common thread was that women’s history had been pushed over,” Schiot told the audience on what motivated her to turn her Instagram account into something even more. “It [the book] was really my way of figuring it out. It was never a book about sports. It was an organic process that just kind of transpired.”
Author Molly Schiot will be carrying out an ‘Instagram Takeover’ for the LA84 Foundation this week. Schiot will be posting photographs and anecdotes daily from the LA84 Sport History Library archives and collections for the final stretch of Women’s History Month in March. “I’m excited to be back at the LA84 Foundation Library, where I did 99.9 percent of my research for my book,” Schiot said. “I’m grateful to LA84 for providing me such an extensive resource for women’s history.”
Schiot’s Instagram account, @theunsungheroines, shares stories of pioneering women athletes, especially those fighting for inclusion before Title IX’s passing in 1972. These women, the ‘Unsung Heroines,’ relate to LA84’s mission to level the playing field and increase the number of girls taking part in youth sports. To stay up to date on the women’s sports movement in Los Angeles and women’s achievement in Olympic history, follow LA84 on Instagram.
“We at LA84 are big fans of the Unsung Heroines Instagram and its empowering message. Molly Schiot has used the LA84 Library many times, so we are eager to see what content she will post this week,” said Wayne Wilson, LA84 Vice President, Education Services.
Schiot will join LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril, pioneering former NBA referee Violet Palmer and Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductee Laura Thornhill Caswell for a Question-and-Answer session at the LA84 Foundation next week moderated by Elika Sadeghi. Organized by WISE (Women in Sports and Events) Los Angeles, Schiot will discuss her journey to discover the sporting figures that paved the path for many modern female athletes to become international superstars, and how that turned into her book, Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines,
The Unsung Heroines Instagram account served as an impetus for Schiot to turn her passion into a photo-driven stories collection after her work in the entertainment industry often found stories of female athletes underrepresented and dismissed. With much of the research aided by the archives and resources of the LA84 Library, Schiot turned these tales into a full, picture-focused book. For Schiot, the book pays it forward to the generations of female athletes before her. “This book is dedicated to all women who were forever told no,” says an inscription within.
On August 5, 1984, history was made as Joan Benoit dashed into the LA Memorial Coliseum to the sound of deafening applause. She was the deserving winner of the first Women’s Olympic Marathon, but her victory, and the event itself, was decades in the making. During Women’s History Month and ahead of the 2017 LA Marathon, LA84 documented the fight for equality in women’s distance running and the road to gender equality in the Olympic Games.
A special multimedia presentation: https://spark.adobe.com/page/aLcPZ0qo7rgoY/
ALSO SEE: The Women Behind the LA 2024 Bid
“Stay true to your journey, and stay outside your comfort zone. You are our future, so go make it happen.”
These were the words imparted by LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril to a group of over 700 young women from across Los Angeles on Tuesday, as Simril hosted Olympic champions and difference-makers on a panel at the inaugural Los Angeles Young Women’s Assembly on the campus of the University of Southern California. Organized by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland, the final panel of the whole-day event was titled “Compete Like a Woman” and saw Simril moderating a panel featuring Olympic gold medalists Janet Evans (Swimming), Carmelita Jeter (Track & Field) and Jordyn Wieber (Gymnastics) along with Nike executive Blanca Gonzalez.
The panel topics included how the panelists achieved their success in the world of sports, their biggest challenges along the way, and each’s advice to the group of intently listening youth. “Winning is not in the result, it’s in the journey,” said Evans, whose inspiration to work toward becoming a five-time Olympic medalist came from watching the 1984 Olympic Games as a 12-year-old in Los Angeles. “If you have the courage to do it, you can do anything.” Wieber, now a student at UCLA, also told the crowd the importance of not only finding what you love to do, but also never ending the quest for passion.
The day concluded with speeches from Wakeland and Garcetti, hammering home their commitment to providing the young women of Los Angeles with knowledge, networking and empowerment to achieve across varying job fields. Garcetti also conducted the Report on the Status of Women & Girls in Los Angeles in 2015, while LA84’s first-of-its-kind Youth Sports Survey offers insight into where resources are needed to improve the number of LA girls participating in sports.
“What we have in this room is unstoppable,” Garcetti said in his closing remarks to a roaring crowd. “I see in all of you the future female leaders in this city.”
The LA84 Foundation continues to burn the torch of the 1984 Olympic Games, having impacted more than 3 million youth through youth sports. As the past looks ahead to the future, FOX 11 In Depth and host Hal Eisner visited LA84 to show how the foundation is working to positively impact lives through sport across Southern California alongside the LA 2024 Olympic bid. See how LA84 is changing lives and futures through rugby, swimming and everything else in between. There might even be a sneak peek at a makeover for beloved 1984 mascot Sam the Eagle.
The LA84 Foundation has been led by two powerful female leaders, President and CEO Renata Simril and President Emeritus Anita L. DeFrantz. As the LA 2024 bid gains steam ahead of September’s 2024 Olympic Games announcement, Simril, DeFrantz and a group of women are taking on crucial leadership roles. FOX 11 News caught up with the impressive group and dived into how their irreplaceable roles are also setting the stage for young girls and women to see them as role models knocking down the doors of gender inequality.
“There’s been a focal point on participation, in which we’ve seen a massive increase. Now, the tide is turning,” said LA 2024 Chief Strategy Officer, hockey gold medalist and IOC member Angela Ruggiero. “Obviously, leadership roles for women in sport is a component in that. Resources for women athletes in their training is a component of that.”
Sam the Eagle, beloved official mascot of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, joined fellow mascots from across Southern California on Thursday night to celebrate the birthday of Bailey of the Los Angeles Kings. Hosted at the Staples Center during the Los Angeles Kings’ regular season game against the Nashville Predators, the celebration included a birthday cake, the eclectic group of mascots taking center ice for a series of in-arena competitions, include a Fitness Challenge and ‘Ingredient Toss.’ Among the notable mascots joining Sam on the ice were Rampage of the Los Angeles Rams, Chuck the Condor of the Los Angeles Clippers and Cozmo of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
As for the game itself? The hometown Kings edged out Nashville in overtime, making them undefeated when Sam the Eagle is in attendance. Thirty-three years after the Closing Ceremonies, it looks like this bird still has its magic.