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Claressa Sheilds, Ashleigh Johnson, Val Ackerman Among Honorees at 37th Annual Salute to Women in Sports

(Photo by Jeff Auger - Double G Media)

(Photo by Jeff Auger – Double G Media)


The Women’s Sports Foundation held their Annual Salute for the 37th time at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, October 19. The event honors those female athletes who have set the bar for women’s athletics, but also encourages young girls and boys to follow their dreams and to do whatever it takes to achieve them.

The Annual Salute award honors athletes with these awards:

Sportswoman of the Year: Olympic gold-medal-winning Claressa Shields (boxing) in the individual category; Ashleigh Johnson (waterpolo) in team category. The award is bestowed upon athletes who have distinguished themselves in their sports field through their supreme athletic performances over the past year.

Billie Jean King Contribution Award: Val Ackerman started out as a dominant player on the parquet court at the University of Virginia to now overseeing one of the nation’s preeminent intercollegiate athletic conferences, Ackerman truly has risen to the pinnacle at every level of sports. A natural leader who exemplifies the perfect balance of business savvy and sports innovation, Ackerman remains a steadfast champion for women’s sports.

Wilma Rudolph Courage Award: Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Squash). Wazir is a Pakistani squash where she is from sports were not considered an option. Simply competing as a girl, which put Wazir and the lives of her family in danger, is a testament to her courage and will.

The night kicked off with an action packed red carpet, where the athletes had the opportunity to mingle with one another. Catching up with USA Basketball player Kara Lawson she said “it being an Olympics year just makes events like these so special, we see how far women’s sports has come”.

Meryl Davis, winner of Sportswoman of the Year in 2014 was thrilled to be back, “coming back every year our family of female athletes grows and grows. It is an honor to be in their company and learn from them.”

The Women Sport’s Foundation would not be what it is today without the leadership and dedication of Billie Jean King. King founded the organization in 1974, with the goal to shape the public’s attitude about women’s sports and athletes, and to get girls active, ensures equal opportunities for girls and women, and supports physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles. The Women’s Sports Foundation has relationships with more than 1,000 of the world’s elite female athletes and is recognized globally for its leadership, vision, expertise and influence.

When asked how the organization has grown and evolved, King responded, “We have given over 6 million dollars in scholarships and grants and we want to improve upon that. To this day girls receive less in scholarship money than boys, and it should be the same, fairness between the sexes. This event tonight is a celebration of where we are and where we want to be.”

Longtime member of the foundation Michelle Kwan was in attendance, as every year she makes sure she attends since winning an award at the age of 11. Every year the Gala brings in young fresh new talented athletes, what is the one piece of advice Kwan gives, “Work hard, be yourself, and have fun!”

Women in professional sports is becoming more and more popular, it is organizations like the Women’s Sports Foundation that have made is possible.


Click here for a full slideshow gallery of images from the red carpet..

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