Why espnW Summit matters

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As a softball player and coach at UCLA, Sue Enquist helped lead the Bruins to 11 national championships.

If you want access to some of the most influential women in the nation -- from business leaders to sports executives to athletes -- you will find them at the espnW Women + Sports Summit. You may even check off some bucket list items.

Throughout my career as a coach, administrator and business owner, Judy Sweet (in my eyes) was a baller in a business suit. She was the first woman to be named NCAA president (do you get a championship ring for that?) and someone I hoped to meet someday.

At the first espnW Summit in San Diego in 2010, she sat down at a table with me and a mutual friend. This is a woman I read about for 20 years, and I was sitting next to her exchanging ideas. It was powerful to have that kind of access.

There is nothing more powerful than a dose of Billie Jean King (name drop) -- simply, she is high-octane greatness. Yup, she was there and available to nudge everyone into greatness, not just how to "lean in," but how to strategically stick your elbows out to create change. I have been to "blah, blah, boring" corporate retreats or "kumbaya" team-bonding events ... thank goodness the Summit is neither!

The key to the event is balance. You will meet women who busted barriers, as well as young execs who have harnessed the social media riff raff or Olympic champions changing the future today.

I departed the Summit saying: "I expanded my network. I have new strategies to elevate my career and balance my zoom-zoom life. You are in an arena where you can coordinate with people across platforms and expand your footprint in the corporate and athletic worlds."

I value the nuts and bolts of the conference, but also enjoy the recreational elements -- running side-by-side (actually sucking wind) with Jessica Mendoza and Julie Foudy, biking with ESPN executives, or maybe taking consecutive deep breaths in a quiet corner between session. There is a good mix of business and fun zone. Where else can you do poolside yoga and cannonballs in the pool?

All in all, it is a 360-degree experience that highlights critical thinking. Every year, I leave with better GPS, a hop in my step and a stiffer backbone. You can build your network and, with it, your career.

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