ALOS ANGELES – The LA84 Foundation’s ninth annual Youth Sports Summit in 2020 was virtual for the first time. And while we cherish our yearly gatherings together in Los Angeles, this year’s five-week virtual format provided a larger platform and expanded audience, with attendees from across the nation and the globe.
It was also an exciting year because it was also the first time the LA84 Foundation teamed with the Play Equity Fund for the Summit, and under this broader banner we continued to bring more visibility to creating access and opportunities for all children to provide the transformative power of sports.
Under the theme “The People Power Our Movement,” we adapted seamlessly to the online format and brought a steady stream of engaging content with athletes, coaches, sports leaders and international figures discussing the issues that challenge all of us. It provided an opportunity to explore new solutions, build stronger relationships and share our stories.
Among many others, we were grateful to be joined by Olympian Gwen Berry, softball legend and UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez, U.S. Women’s Senior National Water Polo Head Coach Adam Krikorian, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson, CBS Sports Analyst, author and women’s groundbreaker Amy Trask, WNBA All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, and Angel City FC Founder Julie Uhrman.
Our guests shared their insight and perspectives during lively conversations with moderators that included Lindsay Amstutz of FOX Sports West, Pam Oliver of FOX Sports, Lolita Lopez of KNBC and our host of the Summit, Kevin Frazier from Entertainment Tonight.
A common thread throughout the five conversations was driving positive social change through sport – and using the platforms that we all have to create positive change, even in small increments.
If you weren’t able to join one of the sessions, that’s not a problem, each of the conversations in their entirety are available here.
During the discussions, among the many memorable views shared by the panelists include these below:
“I love winning baseball games, but I want to see our guys get educated socially. Younger people are showing my generation how to have a voice.” – Dave Roberts, Manager, LA Dodgers
“I didn’t spend a moment thinking about my gender. I do recognize the privilege I had working with men who didn’t care about my gender. And what has worked for one doesn’t work for everyone. But what worked for me is recognizing every single person can make a contribution. And what matters most is in your mind, and in your heart.” – Amy Trask, Sports Executive, CBS Sports Analyst, Big3 Board Chair
“Being able to teach athletes how to communicate with coaches is a valuable skill in life. It’s important to know sports is difficult. It’s not an easy task. There’s mental stress and pressure when the game is on the line. No kid wants to fail…So creating action plans on how they move forward plays a huge part because life is full of adversity.” – Lisa Fernandez, UCLA Assistant Softball Coach
“We not only wanted to be champions on the field but off the field. We had people come to us and want to be a part of it. That there was no NWSL team in Los Angeles…it wasn’t our intent to have 30 or 40 owners, but I’m thrilled to do. It’s all about advancing women, women athletics and our mission of equality.” – Julie Uhrman, Angel City FC Founder
“We’ve found this year across networks there is 68 percent higher viewership than any other season. It’s not rocket science. If we are on TV, people will watch us. We see time and time again – the game is fun to watch. With more games, more people have an opportunity to watch us. Putting us out there and covering us, the revolution will follow.” – Nneka Ogwumike, LA Sparks, WNBA MVP, WNBA Players Association President
“Sports isn’t just a luxury. When I coached with the Boys & Girls Club, I’d see kids grow into amazing people through these tangible skills. When low-income communities get this access, I’d see them realize that they are important too, and beautiful things can happen.” – Serena Limas, 2018 Coaching Corp Coach of the Year
“The most inspirational people in my life other than my parents and brothers are people I’ve met in athletics. There’s nothing like team sports and what it teaches – in working with other people from other backgrounds. I’ve learned a ton and just want to pass it forward.” – Adam Krikorian, Women’s Water Polo Sr. National Head Coach
“Sports can definitely heal racial tensions and show we have more in common than we have differences. The reality of life is some kids are going to have more than others are going to have. Sometimes we are just going to use what we have until we get more.” – Keith Johnson, Falcons Youth Family Service Organization
“You need to be intentional about your effort to diversify. You have to be authentic. It’s important because it’s right, it’s what we value, and it’s a good business decision. And you have to be innovative to approach them and integrate them. There’s not just one answer. It’s all the above. There is no lack of talent. There’s a lack of imagination to tap into that talent.” – Xavier Gutierrez, President & CEO, Arizona Coyotes
“I like to think of imaginative opportunities. I love the challenge of thinking of all the other places we could go to establish meaningful relationships in other communities where you could work in the NBA, work for a pro basketball team, and never dribble a basketball. Often, seeing is believing.” – Dr. Karida Brown, Director of Racial Equity & Action, Los Angeles Lakers
“You can’t have diversity without disability. In the long run they are going to benefit or not benefit from the position you put them in.” – Rudy Garcia-Tolson, Paralympic Athlete
“Be honest with young athletes. Teach them who is on their side. There is a lot of support. The times are changing.” – Gwen Berry, Olympic athlete