Today we hosted the third annual Athlete Leadership Connection conference at Morgan Stanley’s headquarters in New York City. It was a full day of speakers, panels, breakout sessions and networking with 90 champion and college athletes. This all-day summit was created by athletes, for athletes to provide them with skills and exposure to help advance in their sports, or transition to successful careers after competition.
At the Women’s Sports Foundation, we are dedicated to creating leaders by providing girls access to sports. We know that through sports girls gain lifelong benefits such as, confidence, self-esteem and perseverance; all qualities that make strong leaders. We also see many reports showing that the majority of women in the C-Suite have participated in sports growing up, highlighting these strong benefits girls can learn through playing.
WSF President Grete Eliassen and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, Lisa Cregan, provided opening remarks; Cregan also serves on the Women’s Sports Foundation Board of Trustees. WSF Founder Billie Jean King and sportscaster Michelle Yu led an inspiring keynote where King expressed, “pressure is a privilege and we are reminded of that privilege through sport.”
Billie Jean asked the audience about Title IX’s passage and its purpose. As each woman steadily raised her hand to answer the question, it was a powerful testament to powerful moment to how important this law still remains, particularly as we celebrate its 45th anniversary.
Following the keynote, the Foundation hosted numerous panels and sessions to discuss practical skills and guidance on how to help athletes advance in their athletic careers and when transitioning to other fields. Our college student-athletes received personalized sessions, and learned how to leverage their networks and identify their transferable skills from the field to the boardroom. Our champion athletes participated in networking roundtable and were matched with industry influencers in a one-on-one session entitled “The Give-And-Go.”
Paralympian Scout Bassett said, “I had such an amazing experience. It’s really neat to hear that all these women who had such incredible success some way through sport have taken so many unique paths. It’s really encouraging to know that there are several different turns you can take to get to the same destination. There’s no right or wrong way and I’m really encouraged by that. I just gained so much knowledge and a lot of encouragement today for the future and I’m very hopeful.”
It was powerful to watch as women from various career fields, sports and generations came together to share their experiences with one another. The Athlete Leadership Connection provides a genuine place of connection for all of these athletes to help one another and to network with leading men and women in their respective fields.
Former WSF President and seven-time Indianapolis-500 driver Lyn St. James noted that the day was, “high energy and full of information. I think that everybody who comes here, whether a mentor or a mentee, a young athlete or a mature athlete, can walk out of here feeling very powerful and feeling like you can really do anything.”
The afternoon’s closing keynote was presented by 1984 Paralympian, and CEO of Blue Circle Leadership Institute, Bonnie St. John, and WSF CEO Deborah Antoine. They discussed life decisions, taking risks and choosing the road less traveled as athletes navigate the next phase in their lives.
The conference was made possible by our Athlete Leadership Connection Partners – WSF National Partners Chevrolet, espnW, FOX Networks Group, Gatorade and NBC Sports Group, as well as our event partners Citizen Watch USA, the New York Mets and the Ohio University Master of Sports Administration Program.