In celebration of Women’s History Month, WISE LA and LA84 Foundation hosted a panel Q&A with LA-based author and filmmaker, Molly Schiot, and several phenomenal women who are pioneers in sports. Molly’s book, Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History, brings us the stories of the female athletes and trailblazers in history who made it possible for women to get out on the field and play.
The story of how Game Changers came to be is one of perseverance and tenacity. As an artist who previously played sports, Molly fell in love with the idea of bringing the untold stories of women in sports to life on TV. Unfortunately, producers did not agree with Molly’s vision and she watched as rejected pitch after rejected pitch poured in. From each rejection she received, the spirit of Game Changers slowly brewed.
Moderated by Elika Sadeghi, the night’s panel consisted of Molly and three unsung heroines of sports from her book: Kim Gilbert, Ambassador, USA Table Tennis Association; Laura Thornhill Caswell, Skateboarding Hall of Fame; and Violet Palmer, first female referee in the NBA. Each of these women were historic firsts in their respective sports and each had their own tale of breaking the glass ceiling to get where they are.
Kim Gilbert has faced an uphill battle her entire career. Choosing a sport that very few people took seriously in the US and coupling that with her gender, Kim has faced adversity in every corner of her career. Despite setbacks, she is now the CEO of Pongstarz and holds the record for fastest reflexes recorded in US Olympic Festival history.
Laura Thornill Caswell took her tomboy obsession for skateboarding to become a true pioneer in the sport. Throughout her career, she has accomplished many firsts: first female skater to get her own signature model skateboard; first female to get a “Who’s Hot,” feature article, and centerfold in Skateboarder magazine.
As the first female referee in the NBA, Violet Palmer still recalls walking into the training room on her first day and being surrounded by men. Although she was in a fishbowl by herself, her passion and love for basketball quickly proved her right to be on the court and helped her open doors for all of the women that have since followed in her path.
The stories of these women were truly inspirational to all of the attendees, most of whom are females in the business of sports. For many, the evening was a game changing event that motivated them to always go after their passions.
For more information, check out Game Changers and follow Molly’s account @unsungheroines on Instagram. Have a story on an unsung heroine in sports you’d like to share? Click here to submit your story.
A special thanks to the LA84 Foundation, whose work is a testament to the transformative power of sports.