Jump to content

  • Photo:


    Inaugural NWCA Trailblazer Awards to Abbott, Chun, Flavin

    MANHEIM, PA - The National Wrestling Coaches Association announces the inaugural honorees for the Trailblazer Award, honoring those who have championed the sport of women's wrestling in the collegiate space.

    Gary Abbott, Clarissa Chun and Ashley Flavin are the 2024 Trailblazer Award honorees, as nominated by the NWCA's member women's wrestling coaches. The Leadership Group members from both the NCAA and NAIA then voted on the honorees, with Abbott, Chun and Flavin rising to the top of those nominated.

    "There is so much great work that has been done to lay the foundation for the growth of women's wrestling and it is bolstering our sport overall," NWCA President Tony Ersland said. "Honoring these individuals for their part in building our sport is something the NWCA is proud and excited to do."

    Gary Abbott, Director of Communications and Special Projects at USA Wrestling, has been involved with the promotion and development of women's wrestling since its inception, nationally and internationally, in the late 1980s. In his 35 years serving the sport, Gary has provided coverage of all United States Women's World and Olympic teams, as well as every women's collegiate national championship. He also created both the North American women's collegiate wrestling rankings as well as the ASICS Girls High School All-American Team.

    A National Wrestling Hall of Fame Order of Merit honoree in 2020, Abbott also received the NWCA Meritorious Service Award in 2005. He has also served on the Committee for the Advancement of Women's Wrestling, the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championship committee, and is a liaison for the women's collegiate wrestling coalition to the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics to champion women's wrestling as an NCAA championship sport.

    Clarissa Chun, the first women's wrestling coach at Power 5 institution and head coach of the 2024 NCWWC Champions in the Iowa Hawkeyes, was the first girl's high school wrestling state champion in Hawaii in 1998. After a collegiate career at Missouri Valley College, she went on to represent the United States at 48 kilograms at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics. Chun won the bronze medal in London, and also wrestled at five Senior World Championships, taking the gold medal at the 2008 Worlds in Tokyo.

    One of only four females to earn Distinguished Member honors as a National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee, Chun won five U.S. Open titles. She was a 2011 Pan American Games silver medalist and won four gold medals at the Pan American Championships. She was a runner-up at four U.S. World Team Trials and three U.S. Opens, in a career which spanned 18 years competing at the Senior level. After retiring from competition, Chun became an assistant coach for the USA Wrestling women's national team from 2017-2021, helping lead the US to 17 World medals, including seven gold, four silver and six bronzes, as well as an Olympic gold, Olympic silver and two Olympic bronzes.

    Ashley Flavin, the first woman to win an NWCA Coach of the Year honor, is the current head coach at perennial NAIA powerhouse Life University. She was a state champion for Lake Worth (Florida) High School in 2001, and spent five years as a resident athlete at the United States Olympic Training Center. She was a runner-up at the Women's College Wrestling Championships for Oklahoma City University, a 2008 Olympic Team Trials Qualifier, 2008 US Open Bronze Medalist, and a US Open Bronze Medalist and World Team Trials Qualifier in 2011.

    The first woman to lead a program to a National title, Flavin did so with the 2022 NWCA National Duals championship won by the Running Eagles. During her decade at the helm of the Life program she has produced two team national championships, five individual National Champions, more than 30 All-Americans, five Olympic Team Trials Qualifiers, 11 World Team Trials Qualifiers and a World Team Member.

    The 2024 Trailblazer Awards will be presented at the Celebration of Women in Wrestling, July 27, as a part of the 2024 NWCA Convention in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now

  • Create New...