Women's sport conference takes over Chicago
Girl power emanated from every corner of Morgan Manufacturing, a sleek conference and event space in the West Loop of Chicago, on Wednesday.
It was espnW's inaugural "Women + Sports Chicago" conference, and movers and shakers in the world of women's sports were brought in to educate and inspire others.
There were panels of young Olympians, corporate leaders, founders of nonprofits that serve young female athletes, and some big-name athletes including Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne and soccer legend Julie Foudy.
But perhaps one of the best stories in the building was with one of espnW's own.
Alison Overholt, the editor of espnW, recently was named the editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine. The move makes her the first woman to be the editor of a major sports magazine in the United States.
"When all this first happened, I was just thrilled for the opportunity and some colleagues told me they thought I might be the first woman to hold a position like this and I wasn't even aware of that," Overholt said. "I think it says a lot that that part of it was an afterthought. I also think it says a lot that we'll never have to say that again.
"There will be more women who get to do this moving forward. The path is there now."
Overholt will keep her title as editor of espnW, an entity that is near and dear to her as a former athlete. Overholt says events such as "Women + Sports Chicago" are important conversation starters.
"This is hugely important, creating this sense of community is so crucial," Overholt said. "You're seeing these little pockets of people talking and making connections with each other. I feel like bringing content to life in this way and creating community gathering moments and connecting women to each other and shining a spotlight on women's sports is vital."
One of the panels at the espnW "Women + Sports Chicago" event included recipients of the Toyota Everyday Heroes award.
Everyday Heroes gives $10,000 checks to women who are working to promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities.
This year, Game On! Sports 4 Girls was one of the winners. The organization is based in the Chicago area and was created by Barb Lazarus, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago.
Lazarus created her sports camps for girls in 2007 in an effort to help foster self-esteem and produce healthy, productive children. Game On! served 200 girls during its first summer. Now, going into its tenth summer, Game On! boasts locations in four states.
"This (award) has given a legitimacy to my team and it's said to us, 'you're doing the right thing, you're making a difference. Keep going. Keep the momentum going,'" Lazarus said. "It was always a dream for me to give back. What sports did for me as a young girl and into high school and college was invaluable.
"There was a point in my life that I was ready to take that leap of faith (leave law to start a nonprofit) and ready to go out on my own and really ready to make that impact of women helping girls and women helping women."
While Elena Delle Donne was busy entertaining the crowd at espnW's inaugural "Women + Sports Chicago" conference on Wednesday, the Chicago Sky was finalizing the players who will surround her on its training camp roster.
One addition of note is homegrown: 6-foot-2 guard Maggie Lyon of Northwestern.
The former New Trier prep star signed a free agent training camp contract with the Sky, which opens training camp on Sunday.
"Maggie's a tough player with a high basketball IQ," Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said. "Her ability to shoot and stretch the floor, play without the ball in her hands and finish around the basket makes her a tremendous offensive threat."
Lyon averaged 16.5 points per game as a senior at Northwestern this season and broke the school's career 3-point record. She finished with 1,693 career points.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw