Sally Roberts named USA Wrestling Woman of the Year

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | June 26, 2018, 2:22 p.m. (ET)
Sally Roberts receives her Woman of the Year award from USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender during Final X at Lehigh. Photo by Justin Hoch.

Sally Roberts of Colorado Springs, Colo. has been named Woman of the Year by USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States. This award recognizes an outstanding woman for her contributions to the sport of wrestling.

Roberts is the founder and Executive Director of Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc., a non-profit organization focused entirely on creating opportunity for girls and women in the sport of wrestling. In just its first few years, Wrestle Like A Girl has made a tremendous impact on wrestling, not only in the United States but also globally.

“I am extremely honored. First and foremost, it is always a bit humbling when an organization like USA Wrestling decides to recognize the work of Wrestle Like A Girl. But it is also exciting due to the fact that we are collaborating so much on creating opportunities for girls to wrestle now, and will also continue to collaborate to build the sport well into the future. I am thrilled about this,” said Roberts.

Included in the activities of Wrestle Like A Girl (WLAG) is a strong advocacy focus, working with organizations in all walks of life to integrate women’s wrestling into their activities and opportunities. She has provided “out of the box” leadership in this effort, reaching out and partnering with organizations outside the traditional wrestling and sports community.

Roberts and her team have been instrumental in the effort to achieve NCAA Emerging Sports Status for women’s wrestling, as well as expand college wrestling on all levels including NAIA, NJCAA and club activities. Working with USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the National Wrestling Coaches Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee, Roberts helped create the proposal to the NCAA for Emerging Sports Status, submitted on August 1, 2017. A revised version will be provided on August 1 this year, when the NCAA is expected to

The organization has also played an active role in high school state sanctioning for girls wrestling, as well as the development of youth programs for girls. Just this year, the number of states which will host official state high school programs in girls wrestling has grown from six to 12. WLAG also hosts empowerment camps and clinics for girls, which go well beyond just wrestling technique.

“What has kept me in this line of work is that this effort supersedes the sport of wrestling. I saw it at a team workout just today. These girls have the work ethic, the desire, the dedication and skills that are beyond others. These are the kind of women I would want to hire. For USA Wrestling to support me and the organization as we work together is amazing. We won’t know the impact of our efforts for 10 years or more from now, when these women become leaders and CEOs and change society. Wrestling is the platform for these girls to take off from,” said Roberts.

Roberts was a two-time Senior World bronze medalist in women’s freestyle wrestling, as well as a successful high school and college athlete. Roberts was third in the 2003 and 2005 Senior World Championships for Team USA. She was a three-time national champion, a 2003 World Cup champion and was the first U.S. woman to win the prestigious Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia two times. She placed second in the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

She competed on the women’s wrestling teams at the University of Minnesota-Morris and at Pacific University, before becoming a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete.

Roberts has been a sports psychology consultant. She has been a board member of USA Wrestling, the United States Olympic Committee Youth Development Working Group and the Association for Applied Sports Psychology.

Sally received the 2016 Women in Sport Award on behalf of United World Wrestling and the International Olympic Committee. She is an athlete ambassador for TrueSport, the grassroots organization for the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Sally and Wrestle Like A Girl were recently featured on Megyn Kelly’s Today show.

The youngest of three children growing up in Washington, she was the first in her family to graduate high school, graduate college and earn an advanced degree. She served six years in the Army as a Special Operations soldier where she volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from University of Colorado - Colorado Springs and a Master of Arts degree in Sport and Performance Psychology from University of the Rockies. She has a certification in nutrition from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

The first USA Wrestling Woman of the Year was Tricia Saunders for 1997. The most recent Woman of the Year was Helen Maroulis in 2016.

PAST USA WRESTLING WOMAN OF THE YEAR WINNERS

2017 – Sally Roberts
2016 – Helen Maroulis
2015 – Kyra Tirana Barry
2014 – Toska Adams
2013 – Marcie Van Dusen
2012 – Christina “Kiki” Kelley
2011 – Dr. Kristen Kells
2010 – Patricia Fox
2009 – Ginger Lile
2008 - Sue Hesser
2007 - Dr. Lin Miller
2006 - Sharon Dowden
2005 - Kim Martori-Wickey
2004 - Patricia Miranda
2003 - Kristie Marano
2002 - Pat Short
2001 - Paula McGahee
2000 - Sandy Stevens
1999 - Sue Siar
1998 - Nancy Schultz
1997 - Tricia Saunders