Trailblazing Female Athletes and Coaches Celebrated at Women’s Sports Foundation’s 38th Annual Salute to Women in Sports

Published on October 18th, 2017

Billie Jean King, Condoleezza Rice, Katie Ledecky, Maya Moore, Tara VanDerveer and 2017 U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team among Leaders Honored

New York City, NY (October 18, 2017) – Tonight the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF)—the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in athletics — hosted the biggest night in women’s sports at its 38th Annual Salute to Women in Sports awards gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

WSF Founder Billie Jean King and WSF President Grete Eliassen were among the high-profile and accomplished attendees at the gala, co-presented by Chevrolet, espnW, FOX Networks Group, Gatorade and NBC Sports Group. They were joined by notable athletes such as Gabrielle Douglas (Gymnastics), Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating), Laurie Hernandez (Gymnastics), Heather Mitts (Soccer), Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencing), Alana Nichols (Paralympic Alpine Skiing), Chiney Ogwumike (Basketball), Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (Track & Field), and Ilana Kloss (Tennis).

The WSF’s coveted 2017 Sportswoman of the Year award was given to 14-time World Championships gold medalist and 14-time USA Swimming national champion, Katie Ledecky (Swimming) in the individual sport category; two-time Olympic medalist and four-time WNBA champion Maya Moore (Basketball) in the team sport category. The award is presented to athletes who have exhibited supreme athletic performance over the past year and distinguished themselves in their sport. Past winners include Abby Wambach (Soccer), Simone Biles (Gymnastics) and Venus and Serena Williams (Tennis).

The Billie Jean King Leadership Award, an honor that recognizes an individual or group who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and made significant contributions to the advancement of women through achievements in sport and the workplace, was awarded to former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice for her extraordinary career in academia and public service. The 2017 U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team was honored with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award for their landmark fight for equitable treatment.

“This year marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark legislation, Title IX, and now, more than ever, it is critical for us all to be united in continuing to uphold and support the rights that it provides to all people, not only student-athletes,” said Women’s Sports Foundation Founder Billie Jean King. “As we come together tonight to celebrate the groundbreaking achievements and progress made in women’s sports this year, let’s continue to look forward and work smarter and harder for women and girls in sports each day.”

Accomplished ESPN commentator and three-time Olympic medalist soccer champion Julie Foudy and ESPN analyst and two-time Olympic softball medalist Jessica Mendoza co-hosted the event. The evening opened with the inspiring Grand March of Athletes with more than 70 World Champions, Olympians and Paralympians representing an array of sports, abilities, and backgrounds. The gala also paid special tribute to Tara VanDerveer, Stanford University women’s basketball head coach who reached 1,000 NCAA career coaching victories in 2017.

Grete Eliassen, WSF President, four-time U.S. Open champion and six-time Winter X Games freestyle skiing medalist, took the stage in her first Salute as President. Eliassen shared with the attendees the ongoing initiatives that WSF has focused on in the past year, including the Athlete Leadership Connection, an umbrella initiative that provides champion athletes and student-athletes with mentorship, career guidance and professional training.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation is dedicated to empowering girls in sports and supporting the community programs doing the ground work to support and create tomorrow’s leaders,” said Grete Eliassen, President of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “I am immensely proud to be part of such a strong network of female athletes, coaches and businesswomen that has positively impacted the lives of millions of girls and female athletes through research, grants and advocacy.”

Award recipients at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 38th Annual Salute to Women in Sports:

Team Sportswoman of the Year: Maya Moore, Basketball, USA 
Named as one of the WNBA’s 20 All-Time Greatest Players in 2016 and recognized as the recipient of the 2017 Sportswoman of the Year in a Team Sport for her dominant 2016 WNBA season, Maya Moore is the epitome of exceptional. Moore picked up the 2017 season right where she left off. Under her leadership, the Lynx dominated the regular season and headed into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with the league’s best record of 27-7. She finished averaging 17.3 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting a staggering 44.2% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range and was named to the All-WNBA First Team for a fifth consecutive season. Moore has also been named an All-Star for the fifth time and in every eligible season since she was drafted in 2011. Since Maya’s nomination for Sportswoman of the Year, she led the Lynx to victory in the 2017 WNBA Finals, making her a four-time WNBA Champion.

Individual Sportswoman of the Year: Katie Ledecky, Swimming, USA
At just 20 years old, Ledecky holds the No. 1 International Swimming Federation (FINA) world rankings in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1,500m freestyle events. Following her dominant performance at the 2016 Olympic Games, she earned USA Swimming Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year honors at the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention while also winning her fourth straight Female Athlete of the Year honor at the USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards.

The versatile Ledecky also made a splash at Stanford University by putting up one of the best freshman campaigns the sport has ever seen. She broke nine American and 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) records before finishing her season with remarkable tenacity at the 2017 NCAA Championships. A legacy-in-the-making, Ledecky was inducted into both the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame and the Washington, D.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

Billie Jean King Leadership Award: Condoleezza Rice, PhD
Condoleezza Rice is the nation’s first African-American female U.S. Secretary of State, an extraordinary political scientist, diplomat and leader.  Known internationally for her accomplishments as a statesperson, Dr. Rice’s lifelong commitment to equality, academics and athletics was instilled in her from an early age. The only daughter of a high school football coach, Rice began ice skating in her early teens and skated competitively while remaining a star pupil in the classrorom. At the age of 18, she began playing tennis, a sport that she still plays today.

Throughout her career, Dr. Rice has paired her longstanding passion for sports with an innate ability to lead. In the 90’s, she served as Provost of Stanford University — the youngest in its history — and oversaw its athletic department, widely heralded as the most successful all-around collegiate sports program in the country. During her time as U.S. Secretary of State, she began playing golf and quickly excelled in the sport. In 2012, she became one of the first of two, female members to be admitted to Augusta National Golf Club. Her leadership in professional sports continued on in 2013 when she was named to the inaugural 13-member College Football Playoff Committee; and in 2015, she was awarded the Gold Medal by the National Football Foundation (NFF), making her the first woman to be nationally recognized with the award. In 2016, Dr. Rice’s contributions to collegiate athletics were further acknowledged with the NCAA’s Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports. By demonstrating a steadfast and lifelong commitment to fairness and equality in education, public policy and sports, Dr. Rice has personified the finest attributes of leadership so that women in positions of authority are now more commonplace.

Wilma Rudolph Courage Award: The 2017 United Sates Women’s National Hockey Team
Courage. Resilience. Leadership. These are just a few words that embody the solidarity exhibited by the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team in their fight for equitable treatment. With a veteran core group leading the charge, the team decided to take a stand during their 2017 season. In March, after a 15-month-long disagreement over overall support of the program, the team announced it would boycott the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship, which would be hosted on American soil. The team advocated for fair treatment in addressing the issues of training stipends as well as promoted the participation of more girls and women in the sport of hockey. After just two weeks, a successful resolution was reached.

The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team is a model for success. Team USA captured the inaugural gold at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano and went on to claim three silvers and a bronze over the following four Olympiads. Now ranked No. 1 in the world after winning the IIHF World Championship, Team USA is training for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. With a global stage, their tenacious fight for equality advocated not only for the sport of hockey, but also for girls and women everywhere.

Special Tribute: Coach Tara VanDerveer
With tremendous admiration, tonight the Women’s Sports Foundation recognized Stanford Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tara VanDerveer for her storied career and milestone achievement of her 1,000th career coaching win, reached in the spring of 2017. VanDerveer is now the third Division I coach in NCAA basketball history to reach 1,000 wins, joining the late Pat Summitt and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

As head women’s basketball coach at Stanford since 1985, VanDerveer has led the Cardinals to two NCAA championships (1990, 1992) and 11 Final Four appearances, while also helping Stanford win 22 Pac-12 regular-season titles and 12 Pac-12 tournament trophies. In 1996, VanDerveer took a year-long sabbatical to coach the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, leading the team to a 60–0 record, including eight wins and a gold medal in the Games. VanDerveer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.


About The Women’s Sports Foundation

The Women’s Sports Foundation — the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports — is dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, our work shapes public attitude about women’s sports and athletes, builds capacities for organizations that 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. For more information, visit


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Media Contact:
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