First, a BIG thanks to Lexus for inviting me to the espnW Women + Sports Summit last month. It was without a doubt the best conference I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t the usual conference I’ve attended in the past – and I’ve gone to plenty for marketing, social media, blogging and health care. This conference was all about women in sports, but no divas or attitudes.
Lexus invited me to test-drive their new Lexus ES Hybrid, and it just so happened they were sponsoring the espnW Women + Sports Summit so they invited me to stay for the conference too. I’m thrilled they did.
I learned so much about women and sports, including the impact of Title IX, the business of sports, marketing to fans, the global impact of women playing sports, and the importance of getting young girls to participate in sports. Watch videos of these inspiring sessions at espnW.
Check out the visual boards created for each of the sessions by Image Think, including a featured tweet by me.
And I met some wonderful people. Lexus put together a great group of bloggers and editors, including Allison Leahy of Inhabitat.com, Lindsey Brown of Eco-Chick.com, Jessica Cassidy and other talented people. In addition, the espnW staff and professional athletes were so approachable, humble and 100% diva free. Really, with all those women you’d expect some drama, but there was none. I sat at lunch with espnW VP Laura Gentile and celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. I chatted with espnW anchor Sage Steele about work/life balance. I took a Todd Durkin boot camp class with Hannah Storm. I took a photo with WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes. I was just a table away from pro volleyball player Gabby Reece. And there were para-Olympians who were kicking butt in boot camp, while I was hunched over in the corner hugging my knees from exhaustion. It was amazing – well, except for me being wimpy about boot camp.
The conference made me think more about what parents can do to encourage kids (especially girls) to play sports. I think parents have an opportunity to model the benefits of sports by playing themselves or taking the whole family to sporting events. A lifestyle that includes sports really is the best way to encourage kids to play sports. Rahul Brahmbhatt’s session about bringing soccer to India and breaking down cultural barriers to give women (both young women and their mothers) opportunities to play sports really hit it home for me on how important it is to cultivate an environment that celebrates women (and men) in sports.
Surfing is big in my family. My husband used to surf competitively in pro contests and was sponsored by a number of different surf brands. I know he hopes one of our boys will follow in his footsteps, but he’s great about not pressuring them. But what we do is spend a lot of time at the beach and made sure our boys were water safe. Now they’re great boogie boarders – they catch their own waves and are now starting to go up on their knees. I’m already looking for surfboards so they can stand up by next summer.
And even beyond sports, I think it’s important to teach kids that staying active no matter what your age is healthy. My husband still surfs (well, not much lately due to his back issues but he will waddle in the water and eventually will be back on the board), while I take Pilates a few times a week. Staying active is a part of our lives. It builds confidence, keeps us healthy and helps us age slowly.
What role does fitness and sports play in your life and your family’s life?