espnW: Women + Sports Summit 2019 Day 2 Honored The Women Creating Social Change

Held at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, Day 2 of the espnW: Women + Sports Summit featured prominent speakers including Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, UCLA gymnastics viral sensation Katelyn Ohashi and her former coach Valerie Kondos Field, professional hockey player and Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne, WNBA champion and All-Star Nneka Ogwumike, Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman and more.

Kicking off the second day, Robin Roberts joined Cari Champion on stage for an interview for espnW's “Be Honest with Cari Champion" podcast. Radiating her positive outlook on life, Robin's interview hit us in all the feels. She discussed her battle with cancer, the importance of being vulnerable (can I get an amen) and how she made history for the LGBTQ community with President Obama by breaking the story of his changed stance on marriage equality. For the times when we all need to channel our inner Robin a bit more, checkout the full interview here

Courtesy of ESPN Images

Later in the day, Julie Foudy, espnW columnist and ESPN soccer commentator, spoke with Katelyn Ohashi and her former coach, Valerie Kondos Field, for a conversation on espnW’s hit podcast, “Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy.” While the trio did indeed share many laughs, they also discussed important issues facing elite athletes and all women. From the Nassar sexual assault case to the extreme pressure of gymnastics, Field and Ohashi offer their perspectives on moving forward and remedying the past. 

Speakers Kendall Coyne, Nneka Ogwumike, U.S. Women’s Hockey Attorney John Langel and CAA sports agent Lis Moss came together with Foudy for the panel, “The Value of Professional Female Athletes. Equal Play, Equal Pay.” Addressing perhaps the most pervasive issue for women in all industries, Coyne detailed how the the pay gap between male and female professional hockey players has impacted her directly. While panelists discussed how various professional sports leagues are making strides in pay equality for women athletes (and its about gd time), there is clearly still a long way to go. The fight is not over but with leaders like Ogwumike and Coyne, women can be confident in the determination and tenacity of this movement's leaders.

To close the inspiring day, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro and espnW founder Laura Gentile sat down with Foudy for an intimate interview to discuss the future of ESPN. Pitaro spoke about ESPN’s commitment to women and how the company is tailoring content to female audiences, noting that, “it’s women who are driving the growth” for ESPN. Females as athletes and spectators are finally getting some much needed attention and the best part is, Pitaro wants more - he is striving to create a sense of belonging for women in this industry. Because yes, women very much do belong on the field and we will make sure that is known and valued. 

Over the ten years this summit has taken place, a lot has changed, but a lot of work remains ahead. As Ogwumike said, “It's a duty for us - to come out and let everyone know that we are worthy and we understand what we deserve.” Female athletes such as Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo have taken on this duty, but it takes more to move the needle. We have to start somewhere and the espnW: Women + Sports Summit inspires the kind of energy, passion and awareness needed to tackle the obstacles women in sports face. From equal pay to sexual assault, this summit raises issues that extend far beyond just women in sports. “Empowered women, empower women” and I have never felt this more than reflecting on this summit.   

The summit came to an end on Wednesday, October 23rd. For more details on all three days, check out espnWsummit.com or head to Twitter @espnW and follow #espnWsummit for highlights, photos, videos and more.