LA JOLLA, Calif. – Accomplished athletes, sports professionals and journalists came together this week in La Jolla to empower one another and celebrate the strides made in women’s sports over the past year.
“I feel like I want to be BFFs with Halle Berry,” former Olympian soccer player Julie Foudy said as she walked the actress off the stage at this year’s espnW: Women + Sports Summit in La Jolla.
Berry talked about her new movie “Bruised,” based on a former female fighter trying to get back into the sport. Aside from Berry, the summit featured other inspiring women, like Olympic medalist and New Balance athlete Gabby Thomas and softball legend Jessica Mendoza.
“Persistence was basically the biggest theme and topic of the summit because all of us are persistent in our particular endeavors and our particular industries,” espnW founder Laura Gentile said. “The conversation around women in sports is just at a different place. Ratings are up for so many women’s college sports on ESPN. The WNBA just had a fabulous season, we saw more Olympic stars and Paralympian stars, so ideally, the exposure just keeps growing.”
The summit has grown immensely over its decade of existence as organizers continue to expand their network of women supporting women.
“The women in sports community has gotten a lot stronger and more overt, and it’s not just one-on-one relationships anymore,” Gentile said. “We have a network of women who support each other and want each other to succeed. And when there’s a new commissioner opening at the LPGA, we support our women and hope to try to get that job.”
The summit will not return to La Jolla next year but the hope is to come back to California again in the future. Organizers aim for bigger and better experiences for attendees year after year.
“Next year it’ll be the 50th anniversary of Title 9, so we have a huge content plan around 50-50 is what we’re calling it at ESPN and espnW,” Gentile said. “We’ll be talking about the success, hopefully, of that program but also getting more companies and organizations behind Title 9 and the power of that legislation.”