Tonight, Cipriani Wall Street in New York City was packed with supporters for the 38th Annual Salute to Women in Sports, while hundreds more tuned in to our first ever live stream of the event. The room was brimming with energy as we joined together to celebrate the most accomplished women in sports and the girls they inspire.
The evening honored four phenomenal individuals for their exceptional performances, significant contributions, outstanding leadership and inspiring achievements in sports. Introducing the 38th Annual Salute to Women in Sports award recipients:
Katie Ledecky was announced as the 2017 Sportswoman of the Year in an Individual Sport category. At just 20 years old, Ledecky holds the No. 1 International Swimming Federation (FINA) world rankings in the 200m, 400m, 800m and the 1,500m freestyle. This summer, she collected more victories, added accolades and shattered records, and she now holds a record 14 gold medals at the FINA World Championships, the most by any female. Read more about Katie’s inspiring story here >>
The 2017 U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team was awarded the 2017 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award for their tenacious fight for equality that advocated not only for the sport of hockey, but also for women everywhere. In March 2017, after a 15-month-long disagreement over support of the program, the team announced it would boycott the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship, which would be hosted on American soil, but managed to reach a successful resolution. Read more about the team’s inspiring story here >>
Universally acknowledged as one of the best female basketball players in the world, Maya Moore took home the 2017 Sportswoman of the Year Award in the Team Sport category. During the 2017 season, Maya led the Minnesota Lynx into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with the league’s best record of 27-7. She finished averaging 17.3 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting a staggering 44.2% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range. Read more about Maya’s inspiring story here >>
The 2017 Billie Jean King Leadership Award was presented to Condoleezza Rice for her lifelong commitment to athletics, academics and equality. The nation’s first African-American female U.S. Secretary of State, an extraordinary political scientist, diplomat and leader, Condoleezza found a way to integrate her longstanding passion for sports with her innate ability to lead. Read more about Condoleezza’s inspiring story here >>
We also honored Stanford women’s basketball head coach Tara Vanderveer for her storied career and recewnt milestone achievement of her 1,000th career coaching win. VanDerveer is now the third Division I coach in NCAA basketball history to reach 1,000 wins, joining the late Pat Summitt and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. She is described as a pioneer and a natural-born teacher and we were thrilled to honor her this evening.
Our co-hosts Julie Foudy and Jessica Mendoza, award-winning broadcast journalists and champion athletes in their own right, kicked off our awards show by taking to the stage dressed as Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs from the infamous Battle of the Sexes. They introduced over 70 champion athletes who graced the stage to eruptions of cheers from the audience. Once the final athlete was announced, it was Billie Jean King’s turn to ignite the crowd and ignite she did.
All donations from the evening were raised to exclusively support our program Sports 4 Life, which was established in 2014 with espnW. Sports 4 Life is a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11-18, in developmental youth sports programs. Throughout the room, there were exemplary stories highlighting a few of the girls that have benefited from Sports 4 Life and have been provided access to sport.
This year also offered a unique in-room fundraising experience as we had Robyn Slain, a professional basketball entertainer who spun, dribbled and performed for our audience. At the end of her show, Robyn invited ten individuals from the crowd to join them all on stage and with each incremental $10,000 that was raised each person was given a basketball to show off their spinning skills.
Our CEO Deborah Antoine inspired the room with her powerful remarks and her urgent call to action that, “we have an urgent goal, to make sure every girl has the option to get active and play sports.” She noted how, “in 1971, one in 27 girls played sports…now two out of five play high school sports. But who are the 60% of girls not playing?” Our co-host Julie Foudy summed up the evening nicely and answered Deborah’s question well by sending our audience off saying, “when you donate you get a girl to stand up, speak up and to move.”
A huge thank you to our Annual Salute Co-Presenting Sponsors Chevrolet, espnW, FOX Networks Group, Gatorade and NBC Sports Group, who make this night possible each year. We would also like to thank our Event Sponsors Collette Lee Productions Inc., Getty Images, TPN and Ventas for helping to make the night so special. And last, but certainly not least, we want to give a big thank you to everyone who joined us in New York City and who tuned in for the live stream for your energy and wonderful contributions. We could not do our work or impact as many girls and women in sports without you and we are so grateful for your continued support.