Girls Wrestling Proposal Passes in Illinois

IHSA Approves By-Law Amendment Paving the Way for High School Girls Wrestling

December 21, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) member schools approved an amendment that paves the way for them to create and participate statewide in the sport of Girls Wrestling.

The by-law proposal (#25) was submitted by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association and was one of eleven amendments that passed in the annual by-law referendum process. Saying many details still need to be worked out, the IWCOA stated it would “continue its focus and efforts in facilitating Girls Wrestling as an emerging sport in Illinois.”

The full text of the approved amendment proposal can be seen here:

“We are thrilled to see the approval of the IWCOA By-Law Proposal for Girls Wrestling,” said Wrestle Like A Girl Executive Director, Sally Roberts, a U.S. Army combat veteran, 3x National Champion and 2x World Bronze Medalist. “As an organization whose mission is empowering girls and women through the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life, we salute the member schools, families, athletes and communities that will be positively impacted by this vote.”

Illinois joins the momentum being seen in other states such as Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Kansas where efforts are taking hold to support the recognition of girls wrestling and movement towards putting on official girls’ state wrestling championship events is gaining steam.

“This is an exciting time for Illinois women’s wrestling. Many women have paved the way for this by-law change to occur. Many thanks goes out to them as well as the collaborative work that has occurred between the IHSA and the IWCOA,” said Colleen McGlynn, Co-Chair of the IWCOA Steering Committee on Girls Wrestling. “Our job is not done yet, but we recognize we have a wonderful opportunity to build a framework that works for Illinois and the women who wrestle here.”

In 2018, six more states officially recognized girls wrestling as a high school sport: Oregon, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc. is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to empower girls and women through the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life. More information is available at WrestleLikeAGirl.Org.



Wrestle Like A Girl to Open New Headquarters in Washington, DC

Organization Seeks to Grow Female Wrestling in Nation’s Capital and Beyond

December 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wrestle Like a Girl, an organization that empowers girls to become leaders in life through the sport of wrestling, is moving its headquarters to Washington, DC.

U.S. Army combat veteran Sally Roberts, a 3x National Champion and 2x World Bronze Medalist in women’s wrestling, launched the organization in 2016 to introduce the sport to more girls and young women, and to expand opportunities for their participation across the country.

“The benefits these girls and young women get out of wrestling are profound,” said Roberts. “Through wrestling, they learn where their self-confidence is; learn what resilience means; and learn about healthy choices both physically and mentally.”

Wrestle Like a Girl host camps and clinics for girls ages 5-18; supports the development of new high school wrestling programs and tournaments; and is working with organizations to bring women’s wrestling to the NCAA.

“Washington, DC is the perfect home for Wrestle Like a Girl,” said Roberts. “The nation’s capital is full of women leaders, and we’re an organization dedicated to inspiring young women to dig deep within themselves to become leaders both on and off the mat.”

Formerly based in Colorado Springs, Wrestle Like a Girl’s new DC headquarters is located in the District’s burgeoning NoMa neighborhood in the recently refurbished Uline Arena Building at 1140 Third Street, NE, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20002.

The building, best known as the Beatles first American venue, is home to over 30 startups, entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits, including the Biden Cancer Initiative, Mia Learning and The Washington Center.

About Wrestle Like A Girl

Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc. is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to empower girls and women through the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life. More information is available at WrestleLikeAGirl.Org.


2018 Grapplethon.jpg

The Nation’s Top Fighters Gather to Support One of Their Own in His Cancer Battle

Grapplethon to raise money for Jiu Jitsu player Jeff Stoike

November 30, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Wrestle Like a Girl, Inc. and its Ambassadors, including Helen Maroulis, 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, Adeline Gray, 2016 Olympian and 4X World Champion and Tecia Torres, #6 ranked UFC Strawweight, are joining together with BETA Academy in Washington, D.C. on Saturday December 1st to support a fight against cancer at the 2018 Grapplethon.

The continuous 12-hour Brazilian Jiu Jitsu event will benefit Mr. Jeff Stoike, who is currently involved in his own personal battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a blood cancer normally found in children.

Stoike is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has trained worldwide. He was diagnosed with ALL in April and immediately started an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. With the diagnosis, he, like many cancer patients, has faced enormous costs and loss of income.

“While Jeff is focusing on his health and tackling this life-threatening illness like a champ, we are collectively taking on this challenge to help our friend, fellow athlete, and to raise awareness about patient needs in these uncertain and difficult times,” said Sally Roberts, Executive Director of Wrestle Like A Girl. “Jeff has done so much for the Jiu Jitsu and wrestling community, we are all now giving back and it’s fantastic to see how many professional and amateur athletes are coming in to be part of this.”

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. Stoike continues to practice Jiu Jitsu as much as he can, using the martial arts elements to overcome the pain and discomfort of his cancer treatments.


Where: BETA Martial Arts Academy, 1353 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC

When: Saturday, December 1st

Time: 9AM – 9PM

Athlete Meet and Greet: 12 noon – 1PM

Available for interviews:

Helen Maroulis – first American women to win an Olympic Gold Medal in women’s wrestling, Adeline Gray 2018 World Champion

Tecia Torres – #6 ranked UFC Strawweight fighter

Sally Roberts – Founder and Executive Director for Wrestle Like A Girl,

Eddie "The Wolverine" Cummings – Black Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Fighter

Nakapan Phungephorn – Owner of BETA Academy Martial Arts and a Black Belt in Muay Thai

More information on the 2018 Grapplethon can be found at: 2018 Grapplethon

Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc. is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to empower girls and women through the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life. More information is available at WrestleLikeAGirl.Org.



UFC, Wrestle Like a Girl team up for Empowerment Camp and Clinic at UFC Performance Institute - By: John Morgan and Ken Hathaway | July 3, 2018 3:30 pm

LAS VEGAS – The UFC’s latest International Fight Week kicked off Monday with a couple of fighters teaching the community to wrestle like a girl.

UFC fighters Jessica-Rose Clark (9-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Gina Mazany (5-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) teamed up with Wrestle Like a Girl to host a wrestling clinic at the UFC Performance Institute for aspiring female amateur wrestlers between the ages of 5 and 18.

“What our goal is, is to bring to them the sport of wrestling so they can learn how to fight – fight for their sport, fight for their physical activity, fight for their values, fight for their beliefs – knowing that the mothers, the women in this world, they’re the caretakers of our families, of our planets,” Wrestle Like A Girl Founder and Executive Director Sally Roberts told MMAjunkie. “They’re the ones that are able to help really bring something special to the table, and by helping them learn how to fight, we can help empower them in a level that is unprecedented.”

Girls from Nevada and six other surrounding states attended the clinic, which Roberts said focused not just on wrestling technique, but also the empowerment of attendees in hopes of potentially changing the trajectory of their life – which the Wrestle Like a Girl founder says she did through her own experience in the sport.

After hosting the clinic, UFC officials also presented the organization with a donation of $10,000.

Roberts – a former wrestling national champion, as well as an Army Special Operations veteran – believes that the UFC’s assistance efforts could not only change participants’ lives but also help find future athletes willing to step into the octagon, which will only help increase the quality of competition.

“You’re going to get more people tuning in,” Robert said. “You’re going to be able to draw on more sponsors that are able to recognize the value because now you’re opening up even more to the other half of the population, so this is just a wonderful fit between local organizations because it’s not just impactful on the family trajectory and the family lives, but what happens in the business world when you see you can include women and still be successful.”



Sally Roberts named USA Wrestling Woman of the Year


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.


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


Axa Molina - Head Shot

Axa Molina - State Sanctioning Manager

Axa Molina Hired As State Sanctioning Manager - Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc.

March 22, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc. hired Axa Molina as the State Sanctioning Manager. She will be working with USA Wrestling’s State Sanctioning Task Force and each of the remaining 42 unsanctioned states to get more Girls High School Wrestling Divisions established. Female wrestling in the United States is one of the fastest growing sports. Wrestle Like A Girl is committed to helping the growth so that our girls and women wrestlers get the opportunities they deserve.

Axa is originally from Federal Way, WA, where she started wrestling her sophomore year of high school. She was a multi-time state placer before she accepted a wrestling scholarship to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. While at Lindenwood, she served as a captain and earned All-American honors, including qualifying and competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Trials. In 2016, she graduated from the Lindenwood University earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Athletic Training and a minor in nutrition.

Axa participated in the Miss Seafair Scholarship program for women as the Hispanic Seafair community representative and earning the coveted Seattle title of Miss Seafair. Axa’s community service platform was Wrestle Like a Girl where she continues to create awareness of women’s wrestling in the greater Seattle area and the Latino community of Washington state. Through the Miss Seafair program, she also earned the community service award for her dedication to growing girls’ wrestling and was most notably quoted for saying: “Wrestling is not just done on the mat. We wrestle every day to balance our work life and our family life. We wrestle to work for studies and obtain our degrees. Or, if you are like me, you wrestle with the voice that whispers ‘I can’t’. Today, I stand before you as a confident young woman and a testament to what wrestling can do for a girl. Not only will Wrestle Like a Girl teach your daughters to wrestle physically, but we will show them to believe they can breathe fire.”

Axa is currently an assistant coach at Grays Harbor College where she’s coached five All-Americans and one national champion in her first year. In her free time, Axa volunteers at clinics and local high schools to teach technique and to educate young ladies about the possibility to continue their educational career through college wrestling and encouraging them to participate in USA wrestling cadet and junior events.

Wrestle Like A Girl, Inc. is a 501(c)3 whose mission is to empower girls and women through the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life. More information is available at WrestleLikeAGirl.Org.