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2016 Travel & Training Fund Recipients


The Women’s Sports Foundation has awarded $127,500 to thirty individual athletes and three teams, in 19 sports and across 22 states. Many of whom have their sights set on competing, and medaling, in the upcoming 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Grants were made possible through the generous support of Gatorade, a WSF national partner, and The Foundation for Global Sports Development.

*Biographical information provided at the time of application submission, March 2016

Aja Evans, Bobsled, Homewood, Ill.

Having been in the sport for less than two years, Aja Evans was able to claim the bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She is currently on a quest to claim a position on the 2017 U.S. National Bobsled Team and the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games less than two years away, this is a pivotal year for Aja, especially after recovering from a torn ACL in the aftermath of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Training for her sport is extremely expensive and due to her rigorous training schedule, it is almost impossible for her to work full-time to cover her training costs. With assistance from the WSF Travel and Training Grant, she will be able to spend more time travelling to and from the Olympic Training Center, where she can work on her technique without worrying about lost work hours.

Allison Schmitt, Swimming, Canton, Mich.

A six-time Olympic medalist who recently added more gold medals to her collection at the 2015 Pan American Games in the 200m free and relay events, Allison Schmitt is currently training to compete in her third Olympics. She is thankful for having two varied experiences – winning gold at the 2012 Olympics and then failing to qualify for 2013 World Championships squad – that have changed her competitive mindset for this summer. These funds will cover her travel expenses to training camps and competitions within the next few months and give her the opportunity to become the best competitor in the pool at the Rio Games.

Amy Dixon, Triathlon, Greenwich, Conn.

Currently ranked No. 6 in the world and No. 2 nationally, Amy Dixon is a visually impaired triathlete on Team USA. Most recently, she earned the gold medal at the 2016 Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon Event and the silver medal at the 2016 Sarasota CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships. Although a portion of Amy’s racing expenses are covered by Team USA, her travel expenses, her guide, Susanne Davis’ expenses, and the cost of transporting her bicycle to and from international competitions are not covered. This season, Amy hopes to secure a medal at the Rio Games. The funds from this grant will cover her training costs and the transportation fees for her bike to and from races. This financial assistance will enable her to stay competitive with the top five women in her event.

Anita Alvarez, Synchronized Swimming, Kenmore, N.Y.

With the dream of going to the Olympics, Anita Alvarez relocated to California at the age of 16 to train at the National Training Center. Anita’s family has made many financial sacrifices to support her career, often taking on more than one job. However, it has become increasingly difficult for them. Anita currently spends nine hours a day in the gym and in the pool working on technique, synchronization, and strength. With such a large time commitment allocated to training and regular overseas travel, she cannot take on a part-time job to cover her regular living and training expenses. Synchronized Swimming receives very limited support, and for Alvarez, who recently earned a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, this is a very crucial time for her. She must increase the intensity of her training in preparation for the Rio Games. In the long-term, she hopes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and improve her overall world ranking. A large portion of the WSF Travel and Training Grant will cover her training expenses and relieve her family’s financial burden.

Ayden Uhlir, Equestrian, Arlington, Texas

Ayden Uhlir is the first back-to-back North American Junior and Young Rider Champion in dressage. Her goals for the year are to secure a spot on the U.S. U25 Grand Prix Team in Europe and return to the U.S. to compete for her third national title in the youth division. In the next five years, Ayden intends to compete in her first World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and the Tokyo Games. To achieve her goals, she relocated to Southern California two years ago to train with one of the U.S. Olympic coaches and has been working seven days a week to pay for her training fees. The funds from the grant will offset the expensive transportation costs necessary to bring her equine partner to international competitions.

Brittany Smith, Track and Field, Oak Park, Ill.

Brittany Smith is currently the No. 2 ranked shot putter in the United States as she gears up to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. In 2015, she finished in 5th place at the U.S. Outdoor Championships, and on three different occasions threw a world-leading mark. Brittany was also the NCAA runner-up in 2012 and 2013. This year Brittany has dealt with a loss of income and a wrist injury. As a full time athlete, Brittany would use the WSF Travel and Training Grant to offset expenses from travelling domestically and internationally to compete against the best shot putters. This grant will allow Brittany to focus on her training and becoming the top shot putter in the world.

Chanelle Price, Track and Field, Easton, Pa.

With the 2016 Rio Games just around the corner, Chanelle Price is preparing to make the Olympic Team and seize the gold medal. Price excelled at track and field in high school and continued to run for the University of Tennessee. Because of the pressure that came with being a high school superstar, Chanelle struggled to perform her best and almost wanted to end her career. With her coach’s support, however, she continued and in 2014, Chanelle became the IAAF World Indoor Champion in the 800m. This season, Chanelle knows she needs to set herself apart from her competitors by fully recovering between intense practices to optimize training. This grant will cover Chanelle’s nutritional supplements, travel, and training expenses.

Claire Donahue, Swimming, Maryville, Tenn.

A 2012 Olympic finalist and 2011 Pan American Championships gold medalist in the 100m fly, Claire Donahue knows it takes a lot of work to qualify for the Olympic Team. Eight years ago, Claire added running and various forms of therapy to her regimen, and as a result, has consistently seen improvements in her performance. The large coaching fees and the recovery tools necessary to take her to the next level require a great deal of financial support. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will support her therapy sessions and training fees, which will allow her to spend more time in the pool.

Clare Johnson, Gymnastics – Trampoline, Huntsville, Ala.

A 2015 U.S. trampoline champion and synchronized trampoline silver medalist, Clare Johnson has a long list of goals for herself. She hopes to defend her champion title at the National Championships in June, to execute top performances at her upcoming competition events, and to improve her international ranking. In order to reach these goals, it is essential that she have the opportunity to train at the best facilities and participate in major competitions. However, the travel expenses to these competitions add a huge financial burden on Clare’s family. As a result, she often drives to her meets instead of flying, which takes away from her training time. With the assistance of the WSF Travel and Training Grant, Clare will be able to offset these travel expenses and spend more time training with her synchronized trampoline partner.

Crystal Wang, Table Tennis, Bellevue, Wash.

Fourteen-year-old Crystal Wang has been playing table tennis since she was five, and has claimed many international and national awards over the years. She is currently ranked No. 2 in the world according to the ITTF World Rankings as of January 2016 and was recently named the winner of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Team Trials. This is huge turning point for Crystal. She is currently working on her goal to claim medals at both the ITTF World Tour and the Tokyo Games. In order to achieve these goals, Crystal needs extensive professional training and more international competition experience. With the WSF’s financial support, she will be able to attend international premier training camps and competitions.

Dana Feiss, Cycling, Colorado Springs, Colo.

An elite-level track sprint cycling since 2008, Dana Feiss is currently a member of the U.S. National Team with the aim of representing her country at the Rio Games. She recently claimed the gold at the 2015 Easter International Cycling Grand Prix in the sprint and keirin events. Because riders are required to meet a minimum number of points before they are allowed to participate in races at different tiers, the WSF Travel and Training Grant gives Dana the chance to compete at upcoming competitions and gather enough points to qualify for the Rio Games and Tokyo Games. The funds will also go towards offsetting airfare and equipment transport costs throughout the season.

Dana Mecke, Track and Field, San Antonio, Texas

An aspiring professional middle-distance runner, Dana Mecke is now ranked No. 13 nationally and No. 35 in the world in the 200m. Her goals for the year are to break the two-minute mark in the 800m and to qualify for the Rio Games. Because of her financial situation, however, Dana has been working part-time as an engineer for a startup medical company so that she can fund the path to her dreams. Working part-time limits the number of competitions she can attend. The assistance of the WSF Travel and Training Grant will help Dana focus on getting to the next level without having to worry about lost hours at work. The grant will support her travel expenses to national and international competitions, which are critical to improving her rankings and gaining competitive experience.

Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team, Soccer, Seattle, Wash.

Despite the lack of awareness of its history of success, the Deaf Women’s National Soccer Team has claimed the gold medal at three Deaflympic Games and seized one World Cup win since its establishment. Unlike their competitors, the U.S. DWNT is at a disadvantage because they are completely self-funded. In the short-term, the team plans to win the 2016 Deaf World Soccer Championships, to seize their fourth gold medal at the 2017 Deaflympic Games, and to create enough awareness to generate sponsorships. All of the funds awarded from the WSF Travel and Training Grant will support team travel to the 2016 Deaf World Championships in Italy.

DeeDee Trotter, Track and Field, Los Angeles, Calif.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400m relay and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the individual 400m, DeeDee Trotter is well-recognized as a leader in her sport. In the upcoming year, DeeDee’s goal is to make the Olympic team for the fourth time in her career. However, this time around, she is without sponsorship. As such, all of the associated travel and training expenses must be paid for out of pocket. With the funds from the WSF Travel and Training Grant, a portion of these expenses will be covered.

Desiree Miller, Wheelchair Basketball, Whitewater, Wis.

Born with a rare form of spina bifida, Desiree Miller has been playing wheelchair basketball for 10 years and has been an off-and-on member of Team USA since 2007. During her career, Desiree claimed gold medals at the 2010 IWBF World Championship, 2011 U25 World Championship, and 2011 Parapan American Games. She currently works part time at Dick’s Sporting Goods and struggles with balancing her dreams of competing at the Paralympics and being financially stable. Desiree’s short-term goal is to win another gold at Rio, and she has been training six days a week for three hours to prepare. If awarded this grant, she will be able to maintain her wheelchair basketball equipment and supplement for her lost time at work spent training and travelling to competitions.

Emma Reaney, Swimming, Granger, Ind.

Emma Reaney graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2015, as the most decorated student-athlete across all sports in the school’s history. She recently claimed the bronze at the 2015 World University Games in the 50m breast and set an American record in the 200y breast at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Her short-term goal is to place in the top three at the remaining 2016 Arena Pro Swim Series meets and to finish first at the Olympic Trials. Because she does not have a USA Swimming stipend this year, she is struggling to make ends meet between travelling to competitions while covering for food and lodging expenses. Spending more than twenty hours a week on training also makes it difficult for her to work traditional hours and cover her basic living expenses. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will compensate Emma for her travel, training, and lodging expenses throughout the next couple months and at the Olympic Trials.

Erin Taylor-Talcott, Track and Field, Owego, N.Y.

A three-time national champion in race walking, Erin Taylor-Talcott recently claimed the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Race Walking Championships. Last year, she was also named the USATF Athlete of the Week after setting American and World records at the 2015 USATF Race Walk Championships. As a long-term advocate of adding an international 50K race for women, her immediate goal is to qualify for the men’s 50K IAAF World Race Walking Team Cup. Erin is also looking to secure a spot on the Olympic Team, and has been increasing her training mileage each week, focusing on proper nutrition, and continuing her strength-training regimen. The assistance of the WSF Travel and Training Grant will enable her to travel to high-level IAAF Challenge races and the Olympic Trials in Salem, Oregon.

Jamie Sinclair, Curling, St. Paul, Minn.

Having recently placed fourth at the 2016 USA Curling National Championships, skip Jamie Sinclair has prepared a plan that details how she will seize the gold medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. After completing her university degree, she decided to commit full-time to her sport. Since then, she has been consistently increasing the time she spends training on the ice and the intensity of her fitness sessions to reach her goal. She even relocated to Minnesota seven months ago to train at the Olympic Training Site! With the assistance of the WSF Travel and Training Grant, she will be able to support herself without taking on another job and focus on qualifying for the 2017 World Championships and representing Team USA in 2018. Jamie will use the funds to increase her training regime, gain increased access to experts in the field and travel to higher levels of competition.

Jennifer Sichel, Rowing, Clifton, N.J.

The path of Jennifer Sichel’s rowing career has never been linear. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College with a degree in Mathematics, she decided to continue her rowing career on the international stage. Now, six years later, she has four international appearances and two silver medals from the 2014 and 2015 World Rowing Championships under her belt. In this coming year, Jennifer’s primary goal is to claim the gold at the 2016 Paralympic Games and begin a new USA rowing dynasty. With funds from the WSF Travel and Training Grant, she will be able to ease out of her part-time job and commit to training full-time through the 2016 Paralympic Games.

Kendyl Stewart, Swimming, Los Angeles, Calif.

Currently a senior at the University of Southern California, Kendyl Stewart represented Team USA at the 2015 FINA World Championships and has been a member of the USA Swimming National Team since 2013. In just the past academic year, she seized her second Pac-12 title in the 100m fly and was named a three-time All-American. This year, Kendyl’s goal is to break her personal best in the 100m fly and represent Team USA at the Rio Games. Because of her full athletic scholarship, she will no longer be sponsored by her university post-graduation, which she has been financially dependent upon since her freshman year. As such, it will be difficult for Kendyl to follow the diet outlined by a US Olympic Committee dietician while covering her recovery, strength training, and travel expenses. With the help of the WSF Travel and Training Fund, Kendyl will be able to “attack [her] goals head-on” without having to consider financial restrictions.

Madelyn White, Swimming, Macon, Ga.

Madelyn White has been swimming competitively since she was six years old. At nine years old, she qualified for the Can-Am disability swim meet, and at 11 years old, she had already earned a spot on the US Paralympic Emerging Team. In the short-term, she hopes to seize a spot on the US Paralympic National B team and work her way up to the National A Team. Madelyn’s swimming goals come at a great cost to her family and require her to attend more individual training sessions and travel to more out-of-state disability meets. Due to her family’s financial situation, she has had to cut back on swim camps. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will offset swim camp expenses and the costs to compete in the Paralympic Trials.

Mahagony Jones, Track and Field, Phoenix, Ariz.

Mahagony Jones is a five-time Big Ten Champion and NCAA DI All-American in the 100m, 200m, and 4x400m relay. On the national level, she placed fifth at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 200m. Her goal this season is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials and claim a spot on the Olympic Team in the 100m and 200m events. For Mahagony, each track meet is a learning experience that will prepare her for the Olympic Trials. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will help significantly with her travel expenses to competitions and enable her to reach peak performance.

Marybai Huking, Goalball, Plain City, Utah

Born with albinism and classified as legally blind, Marybai Huking did not always believe in her athletic potential. However, after her introduction to goalball in 2010, Marybai is now the youngest member of the U.S. National Goalball Team and is training intensively for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Recently, she was named to the roster and will be representing Team USA this summer! Despite the moral support and encouragement from her family to pursue her Paralympic dreams, the high cost of the sport has been a constant struggle. The large commitment of attending training camps and bi-monthly trips away from home make employment an unrealistic option. Because the majority of her competitive opportunities are all over the country, the financial assistance of the WSF Travel and Training Grant would offset the travel and registration fees that place significant stress on her family and allow her to continue her high-level training.

Maya Pressley, Track and Field, Lithonia, Ga.

A consistent top-place finisher and national team qualifier, Maya Pressley has been identified as one of the top female high jumpers in the nation. Having finished fourth in 2015 and third in 2014 at the USATF Outdoor Championships, she is currently training to secure a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Despite Maya’s success, she currently does not have any athletic sponsorship. In order for her to become the Olympian she dreams of being, she will need substantial financial support. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will relieve Maya of her financial burden and be used towards domestic travel and coaching fees.

Rosie Brennan, Cross-Country Skiing, Anchorage, Alaska

Rosie Brennan began cross-country skiing when she was 14 years old. Four years later, she was nominated for the U.S. Ski Team but chose instead to race for Dartmouth College. After struggling with self-doubt over not being re-nominated in 2009, Rosie moved to Alaska to train with the best women’s club in the country. Soon after, she won titles at the National Championships, was named to the World Championships Team, and was finally re-nominated for the U.S. Ski Team. Her short-term goal is to reach the Red Group, which consists of the top 30 racers in the World Cup. Because of the high costs of participating in training camps and competitive events, the WSF Travel and Training Grant will alleviate her financial strain by offsetting her racing expenses.

Sage Donnelly, Kayak, Carson City, Nev.

As the 2015 ICF Canoe Freestyle Junior World Champion, Sage Donnelly has racked up numerous titles over the course of her career. At age 14, she made the Senior Kayak Slalom Team and placed sixth overall at the 2015 Pan American Games. Recently having claimed the first place position at the 2016 U.S. Junior National Team Trials in solo canoe and kayak races, she is training intensively to prepare herself for the Olympics. Because she is the only USA Slalom team member on the West Coast, she uses virtual coaching as her main source of training. With this grant, she will be able to take advantage of the expertise of the world’s top coaches at the training camps offered in North Carolina, Texas, California, and Canada.

Tammy Delano, Shooting, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Born with spina bifida, Tammy Delano never dreamed of being an athlete. However, after being introduced to target shooting in 2009, she has been travelling the world and has had much success. She claimed the bronze medal at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup in the 10m air rifle and recently qualified for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Despite her recent qualification, she lacks the funds to attend international training camps that will help with her advancement. The grant will be used towards upgrading her air rifle, which will improve her performance tremendously, and purchasing a new custom-fit shooting jacket. The financial assistance from the WSF Travel and Training Grant will also enable her to attend advanced training camps held in Germany and stay competitive with the top shooters from other countries.

Team Magenta32, Sailing, Nashota, Wis.

Olympian and two-time U.S. Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Sally Barkow, now leads a new all-female sailing team called Team Magenta32. This team is comprised of six accomplished athletes, four of whom recently competed in the 2016 Volvo Ocean Race. Their goal for the season is to become the first female-driven team to compete and claim the trophy in the 2016 World Match Racing Tour. Unlike the men’s teams on this tour, Magenta32 is new to the catamaran boat and this particular style of racing. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will give Magenta32 the opportunity to spend more time training on the water rather than fundraising to attend competition events.

Tia Brooks, Track and Field, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ranked among the top three American and top ten best shot putters in the world, Tia Brooks has seen much success during her career. She is a four-time national champion and recently became the first woman to break the 63-foot barrier in NCAA history. Because of the lack of funding in her event, Tia is faced with the possibility of giving up her sport. To survive, she must choose between getting a part-time job to support her training and living costs or start working towards a career after track and field. Tia’s goal is make it to the Olympic finals and claim an Olympic gold medal, and will use this grant to offset travel and sports medicine expenses. With the support of the WSF Travel and Training Grant, Tia will be able to train full-time and strive for her athletic goals.

Tiffany Williams, Track and Field, Columbia, S.C.

Olympian Tiffany Williams is a two-time Outdoor IAAF World Championship finalist and two-time USA Champion in the 200m hurdles. Her goal for the year is to make the 2016 Olympic Team and to secure the gold medal at the Rio Games. As a wife and mother, Tiffany has managed to stay active in her community and maintain her top ten ranking in the world. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will assist with her coaching fees and travel expenses. This financial support will make it possible for Tiffany to continue working towards her goal of becoming a two-time Olympian. si

Turquoise Thompson, Track and Field, Inglewood, Calif.

In anticipation of the 2016 Rio Games, Turquoise Thompson is preparing to make the Olympic Team and ultimately win a medal . Since the age of five, Turquoise has pursued her passion and competitive drive for track. Turquoise went on to become one of the top college recruits in the nation, choosing to attend ULCA. While at UCLA, she became a collegiate all American, NCAA runner-up, NCAA Big 10 runner-up, and, at just 21 years, the youngest competitor in the 400M hurdles at the Olympic Trials finals in 2012. In order to maintain her top raking in the U.S. as a 400M hurdler, Turquoise needs financial support. She will use the WSF Travel and Training Grant for transportation assistance to her championship meets in order to preserve her current ranking and continue training without financial stress. Turquoise continues to show dedication to the sport of track and knows that if awarded this grant she will be able to strive for gold in 2016.

Virginia Crawford, Track and Field, Los Angeles, Calif.

A two-time national champion in the 100m hurdles, Virginia Crawford is a world-class athlete. During her career, she held the NCAA collegiate record in the indoor and outdoor hurdles from 2006 to 2013. In 2012, she finished her season ranked No. 4 in the world but suffered what many thought was a career-ending knee injury. Consequently, she lost her major sponsor and has been struggling to support herself. Miraculously, she recovered. However, because of her tenuous financial situation, there are days that she must skip her weight room sessions because she cannot afford the gas to drive to practice. To earn a living while pursuing her dream of qualifying for her third Olympic Trials, she has been coaching a high school track team and giving private lessons to young athletes. The WSF Travel and Training Grant will greatly assist with her training fees, airline tickets, and other expenses. With WSF’s support, she will be able to reach her athletic goals.

Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team, Volleyball, Edmond, Okla.

Currently No. 2 in the world rankings, the USA Women’s National Sitting Volleyball Team has claimed a medal in every Paralympic Games appearance since its establishment in 2003. After finishing second to China at the 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2014 World Championships, they took home the gold at the 2016 World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup this past March. The team is currently preparing to make another mark by securing the gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Within the next five years, they hope to become the No. 1 ranked sitting volleyball team in the world. With the funds from this grant, they will be able to support current players preparing for international competitions as well as potential players in athlete development camps.

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