September 17

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Cassidy Hubbarth, Host/Reporter, ESPN
David Egner, CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation 

State of Play 2019
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program 

Lights, Camera, Athlete
You’ve met Derek Heyswiver (an anagram for Kids Everywhere), who announces he’s leaving sports in the PSA that launched our Don’t Retire, Kid campaign. Now meet Navonne, the actor who plays him, and learn what has kept him from following the path of Derek.

  • Navonne Love, 10, actor and athlete, Los Angeles, CA

  • Cassidy Hubbarth, Host/Reporter, ESPN (Moderator)

Ask Kids What They Want: Meet the Unretired
Once kids have dropped out of sports, it’s often for good. What does it take to get kids back in the game? Three kids from diverse backgrounds share what worked for them.

  • Betsy Pringle, 10, power soccer player, Birmingham, AL

  • Tanaya Mullen, 12, Unified athlete, Detroit, MI

  • Daniel Solomon, 12, field hockey player/swimmer, Urbana, MD

  • Navonne Love, 10, actor and athlete, Los Angeles, CA   

  • Cassidy Hubbarth, Host/Reporter, ESPN (Moderator)

Disrupting the State of Youth Sport Parenting
Now let’s hear from the parents – the primary audience of the Don’t Retire, Kid campaign. Helping your child stay in the game can be difficult, given the costs to families and performance pressures on kids. After an introduction by ESPN’s Kevin Martinez, we explore the challenges revealed in Project Play’s recent National Youth Sport Survey of parents.

  • Anne Pringle, mother of Betsy, Birmingham, AL

  • Kweisi Gharreau, father of Navonne, Los Angeles, CA

  • Jon Solomon, father of Daniel, Urbana, MD

  • Janisha Bennett, mother of Tanaya, Detroit, MI

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Sports as Social Fabric, with David Brooks and Tim Shriver
Beyond the health benefits, playing sports can teach core skills necessary to build a just and kind society. New York Times columnist David Brooks and Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver explore the role of youth sports in developing inclusive environments that foster success on and off the playing field and challenges us, the adults shaping these experiences, to do better.

  • David Brooks, Executive Director, Weave: The Social Fabric Project

  • Tim Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics International

  • Ranya Bautista, Program Coordinator, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)


How to Create an Inclusive Program
How we define inclusion frames the conversation and strategy of access and quality participation for all youth. Join experts, practitioners, coaches and parents in dialogue about creating inclusive sports environments that support athletic development and play with purpose. Learn about new tools to measure and assess inclusion in your organization, putting theory into practice.

  • Alaysia Shaw, Detroit, MI

  • Shawkierra Mills, Detroit, MI

  • Talisha Hurks, Teacher, Detroit Public Schools

  • Jules Terry, Disabled Sports USA

  • Julia Ray, Programs Manager, Disabled Sports USA (Moderator)

  • Rebecca Ralston, Director, Young Athletes, Special Olympics International (Moderator)

How to Encourage Sports Sampling
Project Play recognizes the benefits of introducing children to a variety of sports and activities. Roll up your sleeves as we dive into best practices and put our heads together to explore how to effectively grow sport options in your community. Come away with a toolbox of ideas, resources and connections that you can take home.

  • Emily Stets, Program Associate, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

  • Wayne B. Moss, Executive Director, National Council of Youth Sports

How to Use Our Parent Resources
All of the Don’t Retire, Kid commercials drive to the Project Play website, where we have aggregated and introduced resources – all free – that can help parents navigate the sometimes overwhelming youth sports world. In this session, we explore how they can be used.

  • Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

  • Travis Dorsch, Founding Director, Families in Sports Lab, Utah State University

  • Karen Issokson-Silver, Vice President, Director of Research & Evaluation, Women’s Sports Foundation


How to Effectively Tell Your Story
Every organization needs a strong narrative to demonstrate its value, grow its reach and be an effective agent of change. New York Times columnist David Brooks, whose new Aspen Institute initiative “Weave: The Social Fabric Project” highlights people doing meaningful work in their communities, shares ideas on what he looks for when telling stories about change-makers.

  • David Brooks, Executive Director, Weave: The Social Fabric Project

  • Stacey Ullrich, Head of Global Philanthropy, Under Armour (Moderator)

How to Put Kids’ Ideas into Action
Ask kids what they want … but how? What does it mean not only to hear youth voices, but to listen and act meaningfully based on their input? Hear from organizations implementing youth voice in their decision-making processes and program design. Discover tools that fosters youth leadership.

  • Angela Rogensues, Executive Director, Playworks of Michigan

  • Gustavo Leyva, Youth Leader, Playworks

  • Katie Richards-Schuster, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan School of Social Work

  • Surabhi Pandit, Senior Program Officer, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

  • Kaya Freeman, Youth Advisory Council Member, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

  • Jean Margaret Smith, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Administration, Nickelodeon (Moderator)              

How to Coach Social and Emotional Skills
Earlier this year, Project Play released Calls for Coaches, a tool for coaches to prioritize social and emotional development in young athletes. Our resources, along with many others, have made it easier than ever for coaches to access training materials on this topic. But what is missing? Join us as we share recent insights from coaches and explore the tools and resources that would be most valuable for coaches at all levels.

  • Jennifer Brown Lerner, Deputy Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

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Welcome Back Remarks
Mike Duggan, Mayor of Detroit

Dan Porterfield, Aspen Institute President

Design for Development: Hoop Dreams at 25 – Is Youth Basketball Any Wiser Now?
It’s been a quarter-century since the release of Hoop Dreams, the sports documentary that launched the genre with its revealing portrait of two young basketball players trying to improve their lives. We sit down with Hoop Dreams filmmaker Peter Gilbert and former NBA star Chris Webber to ask: What has changed – and still needs to change – for the game to better serve kids?

  • Chris Webber, Former NBA All-Star, Turner NBA Analyst

  • Peter Gilbert, Filmmaker, Wake Forest University

  • Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)

Emphasize Prevention: How to Truly Reform USA Gymnastics?
Gymnastics can be an amazing sport for building physical literacy and lifelong enjoyment of sports. But it now sits under a cloud, beset with accounts of sexual, physical and emotional abuse of girls chasing the Olympic dream. Identifying the next generation of Olympic stars has been the focus of USA Gymnastics, and many girls paid a price. Some went to compete for Valorie Kondos Field at UCLA, who helped them find joy again. Hear ideas from Kondos Field and U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Famer Wendy Hilliard on how to make the sport healthier, and more accessible, to more kids.

  • Valorie Kondos Field, Former Head Coach, UCLA Gymnastics

  • Wendy Hilliard, Founder & CEO, Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation

  • Emily Stets, Program Associate, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)

A Team That Looks Like America, with Erik Bakich
Travel ball has changed the look of teams at all levels of baseball, including the NCAA, where players are disproportionately white – often from homes that can afford the youth sports arms race. That’s why the University of Michigan team stood out at this year’s College World Series. Head coach Erik Bakich said he wanted to build a team that models the country’s racial diversity. How did he do it? What advice does he have for youth programs that struggle to stay relevant in the travel ball era?

  • Erik Bakich, Head Baseball Coach, University of Michigan

  • John Bacon, Author (Moderator)

Encourage Sports Sampling: All Sports for All Kids
State of Play reports in Detroit and Buffalo show that kids who are Hispanic and African American play fewer sports on average than kids who are white. In this session, we hear from program leaders who have cut through the cultural, financial and other barriers to introduce lesser-played sports to kids in minority communities.

  • Rich Brown, Manager, Major Taylor Project, Cascade Bicycle Club

  • Lori Ward, Detroit Leader, Figure Skating in Detroit

  • Duane DeSoto, Founder & CEO, Nā Kama Kai

  • Hugo Kugiya, Principal Investigator, State of Play: Hawai‘i (Moderator)

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What I Learned in Youth Sports, with C. J. Anderson
Pro athletes know better than anyone the benefits that come with sticking to sports. But they also know better than anyone the barriers and pressures that can drive kids to retire. Hear from Detroit Lions running back C. J. Anderson on how he still applies the lessons he learned from youth sports, on and off the field, and why he pays those lessons forward to the next generation of young athletes.

  • C.J. Anderson, Detroit Lions Football Player, Founder of Dreams Never Die Foundation

  • Pat Forde, Sports Columnist/Reporter, Yahoo! Sports (Moderator)

September 18

Featured Conversation: Sport for Social Impact
FC Barcelona is the only sports club in the world that tops $1 billion in annual revenue. One percent of that goes to its foundation – allowing the club to drive social impact with partners on a global scale. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation operates on a regional level, investing the legacy of the Buffalo Bills owner. Explore the possibilities when the proceeds from sports are reinvested into communities.

  • Lex Chalat, Managing Director, Beyond Sport (Introduction)

  • Mariona Miret, Head of Programs, FC Barcelona Foundation

  • David Egner, CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation

  • Kyle Martino, Premier League Broadcaster, NBC Sports (Moderator)

Revitalize In-Town Leagues: Pro Teams Find the Value
Who’s saving community-based leagues? Ironically, it’s the organizations at the top of the food chain in American sports – major professional teams and leagues. Programs like Major League Baseball’s RBI, the NBA’s Jr. NBA, the NHL’s Learn to Play, and the NFL’s Play Football offer local, low-cost programming in low-income areas – sometimes to the frustration of traditional youth sport organizations that charge more. We explore this trend in the panel and think through the implications.

  • David James, Vice President of Baseball & Softball Development, Major League Baseball

  • Chris Fritzsching, Director of Football Education, Detroit Lions

  • Laura Dixon, Head of External Relations, Spurs Sports and Entertainment

  • Andrew Ference, Director of Social Impact, Growth & Fan Development, National Hockey League

  • Jeremy Goldberg, President, LeagueApps (Moderator)

Train All Coaches: And Recruit a Few More
Research shows youth benefit from role models they identify with, but their coaches are mostly men from upper-income homes. Many organizations, especially those in distressed areas, struggle to find volunteers. What’s the key to getting more women and young adults into the mix?

  • Dan Gould, Director, Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, Michigan State University

  • Julie McCleery, Research Associate, Center for Leadership in Athletics, University of Washington

  • Nicole LaVoi, Director, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports, University of Minnesota

  • Bridget Niland, Director, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo (Moderator)

Think Small: Making It Happen in a Big Way
Leaders in Southeast Michigan and Western New York are thinking small on a grand scale, with a focus on the development of trails and greenways that connect and open neighborhoods. Part of that plan: 60 new and refurbished basketball courts brought to life by the Pistons. What opportunities and challenges will this development bring? What insights can be learned for other cities as a grand experiment unfolds?

  • Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo

  • Arn Tellem, Vice Chairman, Palace Sports & Entertainment/Detroit Pistons

  • Anita Twardesky, President, Downriver Linked Greenways

  • J.J. Tighe, Director, Parks & Trails Initiative, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (Moderator)


Fast Break Ideas: How Tech Could Reshape Youth Sports
Join us for fast-paced, thought-provoking presentations on the role of technology in youth sports now and into the future. Speakers will share their thoughts on the opportunities and pitfalls on technology in youth sports in a lightning round format straight out of Silicon Valley.

  • Ward Bullard, Instructor, Stanford University

  • Mark Bachman, CEO, FlipGive

  • Trish Sylvia, Co-founder & CEO, National Center for Safety Initiatives, SportsEngine

  • Dev Pathik, CEO, Sports Facility Advisory and Sports Facilities Management

  • Ryan Sullivan, CEO, Xenith

How to Coach Girls
In partnership with Project Play, Nike and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee recently expanded the offerings on the How to Coach Kids website to include a module called Coaching Girls. We share learnings and discuss best practices in creating environments that empower girls in and through sports.

  • Allison Riley, Senior Vice President of Programming & Evaluation, Girls on the Run International

  • Ramona Cox, Associate Athletic Director, Detroit PAL

  • Claire Perry, Training Director, We Coach

  • Nicole LaVoi, Director, Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, University of Minnesota (Moderator) 

How to Landscape Your Community
Understanding the sport landscape where you live is the first step in building a Sport for All, Play for Life community. Learn how to gather data and insights that lay the groundwork for leaders to take action, and leave with an equipment bag of resources from our Teamwork Toolkit.

  • Mahina Hugo, Educational Innovations Director, Lili‘uokalani Trust

  • Sarah Margeson, Program Manager, King County (WA) Parks

  • Dan Sharpe, Vice President of Community Research and Grants Management, The Columbus Foundation

  • Nate Baldwin, Recreation Programmer, Appleton (WI) Parks & Recreation (Moderator)


Fast Break Ideas: From Europe to the U.S.
Inspiration comes all over. Following four presentations by participants from a youth sports-focused European study tour, attendees will explore how these ideas could be introduced and adapted in the U.S.

  • Daycia Clarke, Manager, Western New York Girls in Sports, United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

  • Rose Harvey, Senior Fellow, Parks & Open Space, Regional Plan Association

  • Terry Whitfield, Program Officer, Skillman Foundation

  • Nancy Winzer, Director, Parks & Recreation, City of Port Huron

  • Paul Costello, Program Coordinator, German Marshall Fund of the United States (Moderator)

How to Reshape PE
Physical education classes can be an ideal venue to foster a sense of curiosity about new sports through hands-on exposure. Learn how educators and community partners are reinventing PE. Walk away with tools and ideas for reimagining PE to advance the development of life-long physical literacy.

  • David Hastings, PE Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District

  • Heather Alschuler, National Program Director, George Pocock Rowing Foundation

  • Chandler Herdt, Director of Healthy Body, Athlos Academies

  • Alexandra Estrella, Community School Superintendent, New York City Department of Education

  • Stephanie Morris, CEO, SHAPE America (Moderator)

How to Mobilize Your Community
Effective community organizing is no easy feat. Learn from experts in building healthy communities and what it takes to meaningfully inspire action with community leaders. Adapt best practices from around the country to partner across sectors and identify evidence-based priorities to move ideas into action.

  • Sarah Wedepohl, Senior Program Officer, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

  • Bridget Niland, Director, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

  • Wendy Siskin, National Program Director, Wellness in the Schools

  • Carla Stough-Huffman, Coordinator of Professional Development and OST Program Quality, Greater Rochester After School Alliance

  • Marty Fox, Program Coordinator, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)


Reintroduce Free Play: Unlocking New Resources
Kids need places to go, and games to play, under adult supervision after school and during the summer. There just aren’t enough programs and places for them and their families.  So, how do we look for resources from other sectors to improve the quality and quantity of programs promoting play?

  • Renata Simril, President & CEO, LA84 Foundation

  • Janet Carter, Executive Director, Coaching Corps

  • Tonya Adair, Chief Impact Officer, United Way for Southeastern Michigan

  • Jennifer Brown Lerner, Deputy Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)

Call for Leadership: The Role of Government in Driving Systems-Level Change
Over the past year, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey has written about Norway’s highly effective sport system and the foundation laid by government actions. Soon, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will release its national strategy on youth sports. What’s the role of the federal government in building healthy communities through sports? What about governors and mayors?

  • Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, State of Michigan

  • Matt Wright, Task Force Member, State of Play Hawai‘i

  • Janet Fulton, Chief, Physical Activity and Health Branch, CDC

  • Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program (Moderator)

2019 Project Play Summit Sponsors

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