On October 18, 2016, the WSF’s Sports Advocacy Network met for the first time. A collection of university administrators, athletic conference leaders, legal experts and collegiate coaches gathered together to craft an action plan to reverse the decline of female coaches and to work towards the pursuit of gender equity in sports.
This evening we watched as nearly 70 Olympic, Paralympic, champion and elite athletes graced the stage for the 37th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Find out who took home our top four awards of the night and learn more about our program Sports 4 Life to which all donations from the evening were directed.
Inspiring speeches, inspiring stories, inspiring people all working to inspire the next generation of leaders. This year has been a break through for women in sports as we saw multiple firsts including the first female MLB analyst, the first female NFL referee and much more. Barriers are being broken down and at the 36th Annual Salute it was a time to come together and celebrate all of these outstanding accomplishments, as well as unite to do more.
41 years ago today in San Mateo, California, our visionary founder Billie Jean King signed the papers that made us officially the Women’s Sports Foundation. Since that fateful May day in 1974, we’ve been the passionate guardians of Title IX, we’ve given millions of dollars in grants to athletes of every level, we’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill for equal opportunities in sports for girls and women and we’ve celebrated the inspiring accomplishments of incredible champions at our Annual Salute.
Leaders. Not just a word we use regularly to characterize captains, or coaches, or MVPs or All-Stars. Leaders are what sports create – strong, confident, competent girls and women who succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the boardroom. Tonight, at the 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports, we celebrated leading scorers, leaders of world rankings and leaders in courage and contributions, but we also celebrated every girl inspired by exceptional performances and incredible athletes. Girls who might one day earn athletic scholarships and run corporations or countries…whatever it is that they dream big to do.
A grand celebration fit for a grand year in women’s sports. Perhaps nothing says it more than countless standing ovations throughout the evening? Ovations to recognize legendary accomplishments, embrace emerging leaders and honor the best female athletes on the planet. From the glamorous red carpet to the Grand March of Athletes to a star-studded awards presentation, our 34th Annual Salute to Women in Sports was simply the greatest celebration of the year.
When gymnast Gabby Douglas flipped her way to the top of the medal podium in London this summer, she instantly had the world at her fingertips. In one night, the 16-year-old Virginia Beach, Va., native became a bonafide superstar, with endorsement deals and sponsorship offers flying in faster than her uneven bars dismount. But what many people did not know is that Gabby’s history-making Olympic gold nearly didn’t happen. In January, facing exorbitant expenses, Natalie Hawkins, Gabby’s mom, applied for our Travel & Training Fund grant on behalf of Gabby. Before we selected the class of 2012 Travel & Training Fund grantees, Gabby competed and won big in London. She has since decided to give the funds back to the WSF so that another athlete has the chance to pursue her dreams. We sat down with Natalie to talk about her family’s journey and their life-changing experience in London.
The Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute is so much more than an amazing night celebrating the achievements of awesome female athletes. It is even more than a reminder of the work left to be done creating opportunity for our ladies of youth. It is bigger than a wonderful chance to reconnect. The Gala has grown into all of this and more.
The ANNIKA Inspiration Award is our award given annually, in partnership with golf star Annika Sorenstam’s ANNIKA Foundation, to a young female athlete who not only excels in her sport, but demonstrates leadership, provides inspiration for others and gives back to her community.
Tonight at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, we honored the most accomplished women in sports and the girls they inspire with ESPN’s Bonnie Bernstein as the host of the 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Gala.