past event

2015 Project Play Summit

2015 Recap: 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)
See 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

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 Since launching Project Play in 2013, the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program has hosted 10 roundtables, a televised town hall, and several “Aspen Timeout” panels at national conferences. More than 250 thought leaders have engaged in our dialogues, sharing ideas on how to give every child access to an early, positive experience in sports. The most promising opportunities were identified in our recently released report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. A unifying document, it offers a new model for youth sports in America based on health and inclusion, with eight strategies and 40+ ideas on how to get all children active through sports.
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Event information
Wed Feb 25, 2015
8:30am - 6:00pm GMT+0000
Knight Conference Center at the Newseum
Washington, DC, United States