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.”