This grant cycle, the Women’s Sports Foundation has awarded a total of $75,000 to 16 athletes and two teams through our Travel & Training Fund program. The 2019 grantees hail from 11 states and compete in 15 sports. With many athletes training for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, World Championships and more, the Travel & Training Fund helps fuel the athletic dreams of competitors, and is generously supported by WSF National Partner Gatorade.
*Biographical information provided at the time of application submission, May 2019
Victoria Anthony, Wrestling, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Currently ranked No. 1 in the United States in the 48kg weight class and a member of the 2018 USA Wrestling Senior National Team, Victoria Anthony has been an aspiring Olympic Champion since she was just six years old. She originally started her athletic career in judo, until she was injured at the National Championship, and then decided to make the switch to wrestling. She recently placed second at the Final X Competition in June, first at the U.S. World Team Trials Challenge in May, and third at the U.S. Open in April. Some of her long-term goals include making the 2020 Olympic team for the 50kg weight class and subsequently becoming the 2020 Olympic Champion. As a 4′ 10″ African American female in a traditionally male sport, Victoria is a champion of inclusion and crosses the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, and size. Funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for flights and accommodations so that Victoria can attend training trips and competitions in the upcoming season.
Channing Cash, Paracanoe, Los Angeles, Calif.
Through her participation in adaptive sports, Channing Cash has gained confidence, determination, and a deeper love and appreciation for life. Originally from Laos, Channing suffered a hip and spinal cord injury after being attacked by a bull on her family’s farm when she was just three years old. Soon after, she and her family moved to the United States so Channing could receive better healthcare and medical treatment. Channing hopes to share her journey with others so she can eliminate stereotypes about immigrants and people with disabilities and also show people that anything is possible. Channing plans to continue training year-round and aspires to compete in the 2020 and 2024 Paralympic Games. Due to her injury, Channing needs her canoe to be specifically modified to accommodate her body. Therefore, the funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for her equipment and travel expenses.
Kendra Chambers, Track & Field, El Paso, Texas
Track has always been a huge part of Kendra Chambers’ life. She has experienced success at the high school, college, and professional level. In high school, she was a state champion in the 400 meters, and at the University of Texas at Austin, she was an eight-time All-American and a three-time Big 12 Champion in the 400 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters, and the 4×400 relay. Since turning professional in 2015, she has maintained a Top-25 world ranking. Kendra hopes to help young girls and women reach their potential and achieve their dreams. She is currently a head coach for a high school track and field team and has written multiple pieces regarding the conversation of race within track and field. As an active member of Athletes for Hope, a non-profit organization, Kendra helps coach and mentor young female athletes. Funds from the Travel & Training grant will help cover international travel competition expenses.
Kelly Curtis, Skeleton, Princeton, N.J.
Kelly Curtis is currently ranked fourth in the United States in skeleton. In January of this year, Kelly achieved a first place finish at both the 2019 International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) Intercontinental Cup Race 5 and the 2019 IBSF North American Cup Race 8. With her win at the IBSF North American Cup Race 8, she was named the 2018-19 IBSF American Cup Overall champion. Along with these victories, she has placed in the Top-10 in every IBSF North American Cup Race since November 2018. Kelly hopes to continue this success and win an Olympic medal for Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. As a woman of color, she is working towards making USA Skeleton more inclusive and is hoping to become the first woman of color to represent Team USA in skeleton on the National Team. She plans to host clinics in her local community as a way to encourage and inspire young girls to be active and participate in sports. Kelly will put the Travel & Training Fund towards her travel expenses while training in Europe. This includes flight costs, lodging expenses, and coaching fees.
Amy Dixon, Paratriathlon, Pound Ridge, N.Y.
Amy Dixon has been racing on Team USA for three years and is currently ranked sixth in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) rankings. With her sighted race guide, Kirsten Sass, she has won seven gold medals and has no plans to stop there. If Amy maintains her Top-10 ranking and avoids injury, she will qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Though her athletic accomplishments are impressive, what she’s done off the course may be even more remarkable. In 2015, she started a non-profit camp called “No Sight No Limits” which helps teach blind athletes how to race at all levels. The camp has produced two Paralympic hopefuls and has helped 30 blind athletes race around the globe. Amy regularly hosts running clinics where she teaches other women good running techniques and educates them on nutritional health. The Travel & Training grant will fund Amy’s travel expenses to two international World Cups and cover the costs for her sighted guide.
Tricia Downing, Shooting, Denver, Colo.
Though Tricia Downing has only trained for five years, she has already proven that she is a force in the sport of shooting. With a personal motto of “Always believe you can,” Tricia has competed as a para athlete in the triathlon, duathlon, and now shooting. Tricia has competed in World Championships in each of those sports and was also the first female paraplegic to complete an Iron distance triathlon. Along with competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she has competed for Team USA in five World Cup events. Most recently, she was a silver medalist at the 2019 Shooting Para Sport National Open in Colombia and came in 10th place in the 25m mixed event. Not only has she demonstrated great athletic success, she has also served as an inspiration to many outside the world of shooting. In June, she received the PUSH Gala Inspiration Award from the Craig Hospital. The award recognizes an individual who has served as a role model and has had a positive impact on the community. The Travel & Training Fund will help pay for expenses related to qualifying for the 2020 Paralympic Games including international travel expenses and coaching fees.
Jenna Fesemyer, Para Track & Field, Ravenna, Ohio
After being diagnosed with a birth defect that caused her left leg not to grow, Jenna Fesemyer had her leg amputated at a very young age. However, that did not stop her from participating in sports and being active. In March of this year, Jenna came in second place in the Los Angeles Marathon. She has also competed in the Chicago, Boston, and New York City marathons, and hopes to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games with Team USA. Through her experience and her accomplishments, Jenna has become passionate about helping young women with disabilities grow through sport. She works to help young girls who struggle with their disability or have trouble discovering their identity. She would love to create a mentor program that connects young girls with older women who are involved in adaptive sports. Funds from the Travel & Training grant will help her purchase a new racing wheelchair with a solid foundation that will help her race pain-free.
Chloe Kirkpatrick, Sled Hockey, Bemidji, Minn.
Chloe Kirkpatrick has already made an impact in the world of sled hockey at just 15 years of age. At seven years old, Chloe was adopted from China and it wasn’t until she moved to the United States and was introduced to sled hockey that she was able to fully express herself and embrace her disability. She is already an inspiration to many and hopes that her story continues to make an impact on others. She plays for the Hope Hurricanes out of Moorhead, MN/ Fargo, ND. In July of 2018, she was invited to attend the invitation-only USA Men’s Select Camp in Buffalo, NY, making her one of only four women to be invited. In 2019, she was named to the Disabled Sports USA Elite Team. She hopes to soon make the USA Women’s Sled Hockey Team and continue to be a leader and role model for young girls. Her long-term goals include making the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games. Chloe and her grandma drive 250 miles round trip every weekend between November and April to attend practices. The Travel & Training Fund will help alleviate some of those costs, as well as help her purchase new equipment. Chloe is not only a star on the ice, but is also a great performer in the classroom as she maintains a 3.5 GPA and plays the saxophone.
Alexa Knierim, Figure Skating, Irvine, Calif.
2018 U.S. National Champion and 2018 Olympic bronze medalist in Pairs Figure Skating, Alexa Knierim exemplifies strength, dedication, and perseverance. Alexa is a two-time National champion and five-time World Team member. She is also the survivor of three life-saving abdominal surgeries and defied all odds when she was still able to compete and place at the highest level of competition after suffering for months with a severe stomach condition. She is a role model to girls and women everywhere and she stands for grit and determination in order to achieve one’s goals. Her goals include climbing the ranks through the grand prix circuit, winning the U.S. National Championships in 2020, earning a spot on the World Team, and ultimately qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. However, figure skating is an extremely expensive sport and the financial burden is increasingly difficult to maintain. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for her choreography, coaching, costume, and competition fees.
Mikiah Kreps, Boxing, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Currently ranked No. 1 in the United States at 119lbs and a member of the USA Boxing Elite Women’s High Performance Squad, Mikiah Kreps hopes to translate her amateur boxing success to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Mikiah has been boxing for over a decade, having her first fight when she was just nine years old. Most recently, Mikiah was the 2019 National Women’s Golden Glove Champion and the 2018 119lb Elite National Champion. Mikiah’s mother is her coach and has supported numerous travel and training expenses in order to help Mikiah achieve her dreams. Funds from the Travel & Training grant will assist with her travel expenses so that she can attend the upcoming tournaments that will help her qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials.
Rebecca Mann, Swimming, Homer Glen, Ill.
Rebecca Mann is a member of the USA Swimming National Team and has swam competitively for over 10 years. She has competed at two Olympic Trials and two Open Water Olympic Trials. She was an Olympic Trials finalist at the age of 14 and qualified for her first World Championship team when she was just 15 years old. With this experience, Rebecca hopes to win gold at the 2019 Pan American Games in the 10k and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. She also hopes to use her success from such a young age to show others that anything is possible. Rebecca is a firm believer that women can empower each other and she plans to write articles and blog posts that inspire other young girls and women to follow their dreams. Funds from the Travel & Training grant will help her work towards making the Olympic team and cover coaching costs, pool fees, and travel expenses.
Nzingha Prescod, Fencing, Brooklyn, N.Y.
As the first African-American woman to medal individually at Senior World Championships, Nzingha Prescod is proud to be a black female in her sport and to represent the possibility of success in an unlikely arena. Nzingha is a two-time Olympian, three-time Senior Worlds medalist, and is the reigning World Champion as a member of Team USA’s women’s foil team. Her athletic goals include earning a medal at as many international and domestic competitions as possible and qualifying for her third Olympic Games in 2020. She also hopes to start a pilot sports program in Brooklyn public schools that would target underprivileged communities and would aim to provide subsidized, high-level sports education. Nzingha is a champion of inclusion and hopes to help ensure that all people have access to high-level sport, not just the few who can afford private lessons throughout their childhood. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for coaching and travel expenses as she prepares for the 2020 Olympic qualification process.
Allie Reilly, Para Rowing, North Kingstown, RI
Allie Reilly has proven that she is a force to be reckoned with in the water. In June 2019, Allie won a gold medal in the PR3 Mixed Four with Coxswain at the 2019 World Rowing Cup II. Additionally, she won an Atlantic 10 title with the University of Rhode Island this year, making it the team’s third title in four years. Adding to her accolades, she was a 2019 All-Atlantic 10 First-Team selection, as well as a 2019 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Scholar Athlete Award recipient. Her accomplishments aren’t limited to athletic achievements, as she was also named one of 12 Atlantic 10 nominees for NCAA Woman of the Year, which honors academic achievement, athletic excellence, community service, and leadership of graduating female collegiate athletes from Division I, II, and III. Allie has been a champion of inclusion for those with disabilities and plans to pay it forward to the next generation by coaching and mentoring young female athletes. She will use the Travel & Training Fund to cover her costs as she moves to Boston to train for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Allysa Seely, Paratriathlon, Glendale, Ariz.
Currently the No. 1 ranked PT2 female triathlete in the world, the reigning Paralympic gold medalist, and the 2018 World Champion, Allysa Seely hopes to continue training as much as possible so she can defend her title at the 2020 Paralympic Games. Most recently, Allysa won the 2019 ITU World Paratriathlon Series events in Montreal, Yokohama, and Milan in the PTS2 classification. Despite her extensive success on both the National and International level, she has experienced great difficulty in securing sponsorships. Due to a lack of funding, she has never been able to meet with her swim coach in person, so she has only been able to consult with her via email, videos, and phone calls. Additionally, she was injured in 2018, which has put a large strain on her ability to train and compete at the highest level. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for coaching and international competition fees.
Pratima Sherpa, Golf, Kathmandu, Nepal
Pratima Sherpa is the first ranked amateur golfer from Nepal and the first Nepali to play a Symetra Tour event. Unlike the men in her country, she was not given the opportunity to receive golf training or support to travel abroad for tournaments and training. Despite this, Pratima never gave up on her dream and she decided to move to the United States to become the first female professional golfer from Nepal and to be recognized by her country and by the rest of the world. This year, Pratima will be playing on her college team for the first time, with more than 15 tournaments scheduled for the upcoming season. She hopes that playing in more tournaments will help her develop stronger golf skills and mental toughness. Her goal is to eventually compete on the LPGA Tour. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used for travel fees, physical training, and golf lessons.
Laura Wilkinson, Diving, Spring, Texas
2000 Olympic platform gold medalist, 2004 World Cup platform gold medalist, and 2005 World Championship platform gold medalist Laura Wilkinson is making an epic comeback to diving. Laura is an eight-time NCAA All-American, 14-time US National Team member, and 19-time US National champion. Six months after getting back up on the 10m platform in 2017, following a nine-year retirement, Laura finished in second at the US National Championships. However, due to injuries that required surgery, Laura had to take a step back and allow herself time to recover. Consequently, she has been unable to secure any sponsorships and the financial burden of her sport has caused an immense strain on her family. Despite her struggles, Laura pays it forward to the next generation as an inspirational speaker, the host of “Hope Sports Podcast” and the creator of “Confident Competitor” which is an online course designed to help athletes eliminate performance anxiety and approach their competitions with confidence. Laura hopes to show women that they can achieve their dreams at any age and that no one can put limits on what they are capable of. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will help alleviate her recent financial stress and will be used for competition fees, travel costs, and platform training costs.
Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek, Rowing, San Carlos, Calif.
Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek have trained together for seven years and have represented the U.S. in the women’s double sculls since 2013. Both Meghan and Ellen have been to the Olympic Games, and at the 2017 World Championships they broke a 27-year American medal drought. Meghan currently serves on the USRowing Board of Directors and Ellen plans to pursue a career in coaching. Both are advocates for gender equality in sports. They specifically want to make rowing more accessible to urban youth and are hoping to host a series of clinics in Louisiana and Michigan. Shortly before the 2019 National Team Trials, Meghan suffered an injury that has made it harder for the pair to support themselves, receive support from sponsors, and achieve their goals. Thus, the Travel & Training grant will help them cover their transportation costs to competitions in Poland, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam.
USA Climbing Women’s Overall National Team
The USA Climbing Women’s Overall National Team is comprised of four members: Kyra Condie (Ranked No. 1 in the US for 2018-19), Ashima Shiraishi, Brooke Raboutou, and Margo Hayes. Each athlete has experienced both national and international success, competing in events such as the IFSC Bouldering World Cup, the IFSC Climbing World Cup Lead, the IFSC Climbing World Championships, and the IFSC Pan American Championships. The team is competing in the World Cup circuit this season in order to fill Olympic quota spots for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Unfortunately, USA Climbing is only able to support seven of the 12 international stops, leaving the remaining five to be self-funded in a year when participation is critical in order to earn Team USA positions for climbing’s Olympic debut in the 2020 Olympics. The funds from the Travel & Training grant will be used to support travel, room, and board for unfunded World Cup competitions in the 2019 World Cup season.