2015 Project Play Summit

Allyson Felix and Mo'ne Davis

What happens when 350 leaders gather to reimagine youth sports in America, guided by the Project Play report? A groundswell of efforts to make sports more accessible, affordable and enjoyable to more children. 

The 2015 Project Play Summit was hosted at the Newseum by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program after the release of Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. The event was attended by high-level leaders from the eight sectors that touch the lives of children -- community recreation groups, national sport organizations, policymakers & civic leaders, education, public health, business & industry, and tech & media. Sold out a month in advance, the summit was live-streamed to a virtual audience

Highlights included the keynote address of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who framed youth sports as a tool of disease prevention, and, in a first for his office, emphasized the need to extend the benefits of participation to all children. Of the Project Play report, he said, "You have built a very powerful roadmap" for cross-sector collaboration that will help youth sports serve the needs of public health.

During the summit, 17 organizations including the NCAA, Major League Baseball, U.S. Lacrosse, afterschool programs and leading medical groups, announced commitments to action consistent with the strategies identified in the report. Since then, many other organizations have launched symbiotic initiatives.

Event sponsors were the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and Whistle Sports. Project Play partners include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nike, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Clinton Foundation, University of Florida Sport Policy & Research Collaborative, and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, and USA Bobsled & Skeleton. Additional thanks to ESPN, Wally Haas and William Mayer for their support.


Value of the Project Play Summit (1 min, 36 secs) WATCH

Graphical drawings of panels, plus event photos


8:25am   Welcome

Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President, Aspen Institute
Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

8:30am   Opening Remarks   WATCH
Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., U.S. Surgeon General

8:45am   State of Play   WATCH
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

9:00am   What is Physical Literacy?   WATCH
Robin Schepper, Senior Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center
With demonstrations by parkour kids, soccer freestyler Indi Cowie

9:10am   What Good Looks Like in Youth Sports (to Kids)  WATCH
Moderator: Allyson Felix, Olympic champion sprinter
  • Mo’ne Davis, pitcher, 2014 Little League World Series
  • Madalin Gomez, participant, DC SCORES
  • Bodhi Lovely, Youth Advisory Board Member, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Gabe Shanoff, 8-year-old, Bethesda, MD

9:40am   Project Play Team USA Bobsled   WATCH
Darrin Steele, CEO, USA Bobsled & Skeleton
Video montage of national team members  WATCH
10:00am   Seventh floor | “Ask Kids What They Want”  WATCH
Moderator: Gary Hall Jr., 10-time Olympic gold medalist, swimming
  • Erin Bryant, alumna, DC SCORES
  • Amanda Visek, Associate Professor, Exercise Science, George Washington University School of Public Health
  • John West, Founder and CEO, Whistle Sports
  • Eli Wolff, Director, Inclusive Sports Initiative, Institute for Human Centered Design
Eighth floor | “Reintroduce Free Play”  WATCH
Moderator: Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology,
University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
  • Katrina Adams, President, U.S. Tennis Association
  • Dr. Matt Bowers, Clinical Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education, University of Texas
  • Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Olympic snowboarder
  • Indi Cowie, soccer freestyler
  • Mara Smith, Founder and Principal, Great Play
11:00am   Seventh floor | “Revitalize In-Town Leagues”  WATCH
Moderator: Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer, Childhood Obesity Team,
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Steve Bandura, Little League coach, Taney Dragons (Philadelphia)
  • Chris Green, Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Adam Hallet, coach of “Roadkill” soccer team (Burlington, Conn.)
  • Stephen Keener, President and CEO, Little League Baseball International
  • Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family
Eighth floor | “Encourage Sport Sampling” WATCH
Moderator: Peter Davis, Director, Sports Performance Management
  • Steve Boyle, Director, 2-4-1 Sports
  • David Esquith, Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, U.S. Department of Education
  • Tim Morehouse, Olympic silver medalist, and Founder, Fencing in Schools
  • Mary Wittenberg, CEO, New York Road Runners
Noon   Networking Lunch
1:00pm   Seventh floor | “Design for Development”  WATCH
Moderator: Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer, NCAA
  • Alan Ashley, Chief of Sport Performance, US Olympic Committee
  • Jason Collins, former NBA player
  • David Ogrean, Executive Director, USA Hockey
  • Shale Wong, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado-Denver
Eighth floor | “Emphasize Prevention”  WATCH
Moderator: Jim Whitehead, Executive Vice President/CEO, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Dr. Robert Cantu, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Jayne Greenberg, District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO, Champion Women
  • Stephen Levin, Councilmember, New York City Council
2:00pm   Seventh floor | “Train All Coaches”  WATCH
Moderator: Terry Liskevych, Oregon State volleyball coach and co-founder, Art of Coaching
  • Janet Carter, Executive Director, Coaching Corps
  • Chris Marinak, Senior Vice President, League Economics and Strategy, Major League Baseball
  • Anthony Robles, NCAA champion wrestler and member of National Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation
  • Sam Snow, Director of Coaching, U.S. Youth Soccer Association
Eighth floor | “Think Small”  WATCH
Moderator: Laurence Chalip, Professor and Department Head, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director, Latinos & Society Program, Aspen Institute
  • Darell Hammond, CEO and Founder, KaBOOM!
  • Dev Pathik, Founder and CEO, Sports Facilities Advisory
  • J.O. Spengler, Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, University of Florida
  • Barbara Tulipane, CEO and President, National Recreation and Park Association
3:00pm   Physical Activity Break
Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family
3:15pm   Call to Leadership   WATCH
Moderator: Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, Aspen Institute
  • Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League
  • Ginny Ehrlich, Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Dean Hovey, CEO, Digifit
  • Caitlin Morris, Senior Director of North America Community Impact, Nike
  • Edwin Moses, Chair, Laureus World Sports Academy
4:15pm   What’s Your Play?   WATCH
Facilitator: Alex Chan, Associate Director, National Strategy, Clinton Health Matters Initiative
Commitments to action were made in each of the eight strategies, and another nine were recognized
4:30pm   Best Ideas of the Summit
Facilitator: Shellie Pfohl
Winning idea emerging from each of the eight activation strategy sessions and as voted on by Summit attendees -- "multi-sport clubs" -- received a Aspen Institute-hosted, Project Play roundtable to be scheduled for later date in 2015 where leaders will be convened to further develop the concept
4:50pm   Closing Remarks + Next Steps
Tom Farrey


News coverage of 2015 Project Play Summit

ESPN | Washington Post | USA Today 
Hartford Courant | Indianapolis TV station WISH
Aspen Idea Magazine


A New Vision, Platform for Youth Sports in America by Tom Farrey

Are We Having Fun Yet? US Lacrosse and Project Play, by Erin Smith

Why Make Room in Sports for Kids with Developmental Disabilities? by Darrin Steele

Seven Steps to Improving Youth Access to Sports, by Edwin Moses

Youth Sports: For Everyone or Elites? by Beau Dure

What Do You Do? Physical Literacy in Action, by Robin Schepper

Aspen Institute Salutes USA Hockey, NHL in Recent Report, by USA Hockey

Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game

Report Website | Hard Copy

Project Play Report Media Release

Related materials from archive

espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play survey of parents on youth sports issues (Oct. 2014)

2013 Project Play Launch Summit: Highlights and Observations