By Gary Abbott
Sally Roberts of Colorado Springs, Colorado, 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.
Past winners of the award include Hall of Fame Distinguished Members Kristie Davis and Tricia Saunders, Hall of Fame Order of Merit recipients Nancy Schultz Vitangeli and Sandy Stevens, Meritorious Official Sue Siar, and Lifetime Service to Wrestling recipients Ginger Lile and Paula McGahee.
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.