The LA84 Foundation held its annual Play Equity Summit this summer in Los Angeles, welcoming an array of guests including Olympic and professional athletes who helped to amplify the organization’s underlying message of increasing awareness of the power of sport, especially for children from underprivileged and minority backgrounds and neighborhoods in LA.
A longtime strategic partner, USTA Southern California has worked for years with LA84 to ensure that tennis is one of the many sports that children are exposed to at an early age, often through Play Days and the annual Summit.
Esther Hendershott, the Director of Community Tennis at USTA SoCal, was pleased to see so many different entities working toward the same goals as the USTA’s Community department. “Reconnecting with the community and our community partners post-pandemic has been critical,” she said following the Summit. “We’re equally committed to mental health awareness and how youth-based sports development organizations can support this, changing from the traditional ways that these programs have operated for over fifty years.”
Among the panelists was Ezra Frech, a 17-year-old American Paralympian who spoke about another aspect of LA84 and USTA’s ethos, which is for adaptive athletes to have access and enjoy the benefits of sport as well. “This past weekend we taught five people how to run for the first time,” said Frech. “It changed their life. I want to see every person with a physical disability understand sports is a possibility.”
The event also placed particular emphasis on Title IX, and the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking federal ruling that provided greater access to competitive opportunities for female athletes.
“Carol Stiff, the former ESPN and NCAA executive, made it clear that women’s sports is good for business,” said USTA SoCal’s Nancy Abrams, who was also in attendance. “In addition, Julie Uhrman, the President and co-founder of Angel City Football Club, said that the team’s business plan is the same as any male team…and budgeted to sell as many tickets and bring in as much revenue. They are on the path to do so.”
These takeaways are key for Abrams and USTA SoCal’s upcoming “Women Who Ace” event, scheduled for August 5. The conference will showcase inspiring sports industry leaders and athletes and feature various guest speakers and panelists.
Learn more about Women Who Ace.
Visit the LA84 website.