Known as one of the greatest athlete leaders in USA Gymnastics women’s program, Alicia Sacramone continues to give back beyond the field of play to the sport that provided her with so much. Early next month, during the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, Sacramone hopes to be elected to the International Gymnastics Federation’s Athletes’ Commission and have the opportunity to further her commitment to leadership within the sport.
“Gymnastics has always been a huge part of my life,” said Sacramone. “Even though I’m done competing, I still have a great passion for the sport, which has taken me all around the world and taught me many long-lasting lessons. Giving back to the sport is not only something very important to me, but also a great honor.”
"Alicia was always a leader," said long-time coach Mihai Brestyan. "She was a natural with her personality and huge heart, taking care of anyone who needed help. She had respect for the sport, and gained the respect of others for her commitment and playing an important part of the team for two Olympic cycles.”
As part of Sacramone’s efforts to give back, she has recently joined forces with Right To Play as an athlete ambassador. Her work with Right To Play has given Sacramone a platform through which she can help bring gymnastics to inner-city children, who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to participate.
“Working with Right To Play has been a very fulfilling experience,” Sacramone said. “I cherish the opportunity to work with children, who typically don’t have access to gymnastics, and share my passion for gymnastics, the life lessons it teaches, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.”
Sacramone continues to be involved with the U.S. women’s program. She serves as a member of the women’s developmental team and the Talent Opportunity Program national staff. Making monthly visits to the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Camp at the Karolyi Ranch, a U.S. Olympic Training Site, in Huntsville, Texas, Sacramone works alongside Olympic champion Valeri Liukin and shares her expert knowledge on vault.
In addition to commentating, coaching and choreography, Sacramone’s future plans include Sole Impact, a company that she co-owns.
As an athlete, Sacramone, who served as captain for the 2007 and 2010 Worlds teams and the 2008 Olympic team, took pride in her leadership role. She famously gathered together the 2007 Worlds team after a disappointing balance beam rotation, assuring them that the gold was still within reach.
“Alicia huddled us all up and gave us a motivational speech. It was the first time I really got to feel a team pull together,” teammate Shawn Johnson said last month when the team was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. “She was our anchor. She kept us grounded and together.”
With it all on the line, Sacramone stepped up to the floor exercise as the last U.S. competitor. Delivering a clutch routine, Sacramone cemented the team title, the first for the U.S. on foreign soil.
After winning a team silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Sacramone stepped away from the sport. Her retirement, however, was short-lived.
“After Beijing, I wanted a break,” Sacramone said. “But I quickly realized that I wasn’t ready to be done. Gymnastics was in my heart and something I still loved to do.”
With new resolve, Sacramone returned to competition. In 2010, she won the second individual World title of her career and the first on her signature event, the vault. As a member of the 2011 World Championships team, Sacramone notched the 10th World medal of her career – a feat that elevated her past Nastia Liukin and Shannon Miller for most World medals won by an American.
Sacramone is engaged to New York Jets quarterback Brady Quinn.
“I know that I still have a lot to contribute to gymnastics,” said Sacramone, “and I would love to have the opportunity to help the world’s best gymnasts by serving on the Athletes Commission.”