Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

John Smith

Wrestling

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Azerbaijan

John Smith is a name synonymous with wrestling success.

The Oklahoma State head coach won six consecutive world championships as a competitor from 1987-92, including gold medals at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Additionally, he owns five national championships as head coach of the Cowboys.

Recently completing his 31st year, Smith accepted the head coaching position at Oklahoma State in 1992 and the numbers and accomplishments since that time speak for themselves. He has led his alma mater to five NCAA team titles in 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and he has coached 33 NCAA individual champions and five Olympians. Under his watch, the Cowboys have brought 21 team conference tournament championships, two Big 12 regular season titles and 129 individual conference titles back to Stillwater. He has seen his student-athletes earn All-America recognition 150 times, an average of 4.8 All-America honorees per year. Smith also has coached two Hodge Trophy recipients in Alex Dieringer and Steve Mocco.

He was recognized as the National Wrestling Coaches Association coach of the year in 1994 and 2003 and is a 15-time selection as his conference’s coach of the year (1994 and 1996 in the Big Eight and 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Big 12).

A native of Del City, Okla., Smith owns a 462-69-6 career dual match record as a head coach (.863 winning pct.).

Smith led OSU to four consecutive NCAA team championships from 2003 through 2006.

The 2003 squad compiled a perfect 17-0 dual meet record, won the Big 12 team title, crowned six individual Big 12 champions and featured a pair of NCAA individual champions in Johnny Thompson and Jake Rosholt.

The NCAA Champion Chris Pendleton-led squad sported a 17-2 dual meet record, won the Big 12 team title and crowned four individual Big 12 champions in 2004.

Under Smith’s watch, Oklahoma State compiled a 21-0 dual meet record in 2005. That team capped the season with one of the most dominant showings in the history of the NCAA Championships when an NCAA-record five Cowboys were crowned NCAA champions. Zack Esposito won at 149 with Johny Hendricks taking the 165 championship. Pendleton repeated as an NCAA champion at 174, Jake Rosholt claimed the title at 197 and Steve Mocco won the heavyweight championship. OSU wrestlers compiled a 38-9 record at the NCAA Championships that year and the Cowboys set school records for points, margin of victory and national champions. Oklahoma State scored 153 team points to top second-place Michigan by 70 points.

Smith and the Cowboys went 16-2 in dual meets en route to claiming their fourth consecutive NCAA team title in 2006, under the leadership of Hendricks and Rosholt, who both claimed their second consecutive NCAA individual championships.

Smith won his first of five NCAA team championships in 1994 when the Cowboys compiled a 13-1 dual meet record, won the Big 8 team championship, crowned four individual Big 8 champions and three NCAA individual champions in Alan Fried, Mark Branch and Smith’s younger brother and first-ever four-time NCAA champion, Pat Smith.

For all of the championships and success he continues to enjoy as a coach, it is his career as a wrestler that is the stuff of legend. Smith truly was the best wrestler in the world.

In brief, Smith compiled a 105-5 record as a high school wrestler at Del City High School in Del City, Okla., before beginning his collegiate career at Oklahoma State, where he put together a 152-8-2 record that included a pair of NCAA individual championships in 1987 and 1988. He was a three-time All-America selection in 1985, 1987 and 1988. On the international stage, Smith rolled to a 100-5 career record that included six world championships (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992), two Olympic gold medals (1988 and 1992), two Pan American Games gold medals (1987 and 1991) and two Goodwill Games gold medals (1986 and 1990).

To this day, Smith holds Oklahoma State school records for career victories (152), single-season victories (47 in 1988), career bonus-point wins (113), single-season bonus-point wins (39 in both 1987 and 1988) and single-season bonus point win percentage (90.7 in 1987). A three-time Big Eight Conference individual champion in 1985, 1987 and 1988, Smith wrestled primarily at 134 during his collegiate career, where he strung together a 124-4 overall record. He also competed at 126, compiling a 27-4-2 overall mark, and won his lone career match at 142.

After Smith’s junior year at Oklahoma State, he won the first of his six world championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Smith was the only collegiate wrestler to win a world championship while still in college until 2017 when Kyle Snyder (Ohio State) claimed a title in Paris. Following his graduation in 1988, Smith qualified for the U.S. Olympic freestyle team and came away from the Seoul Olympics with the first of two Olympic gold medals and the second of six consecutive world titles.

Three more world championships ensued in 1989, 1990 and 1991 before Smith claimed the second of his Olympic gold medals at the 1992 Barcelona games to cement his legacy as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.

His list of awards and honors received befits someone who earned the distinction of being the best wrestler on the planet. Smith was honored as the first wrestler to ever claim the James E. Sullivan Award as America’s outstanding amateur athlete when he won the award in 1990. He was the first American ever chosen as the Master of Technique and Wrestler of the Year by the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) when he received the honor in 1990. In 1992, he was presented with the Amateur Athletic Foundation’s World Trophy, becoming the first North American wrestler to earn the honor. A 2003 inductee into the FILA International Wrestling Hall of Fame, a distinguished member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and a 1997 inductee into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Smith was recognized as one of the 100 Greatest Olympians of All Time at the 1996 Atlanta Games. That same year, Smith was inducted into the OSU Athletic Hall of Honor.

Smith was the 1991 selection as FILA’s Outstanding Wrestler of the Year after earning Man of the Year honors from Amateur Wrestling News in 1988, Athlete of the Year recognition from USA Wrestling in 1989 and Sportsman of the Year honors from the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1990.

In 2004, the U.S. Olympic Committee presented Smith with the Titan Award, and the next year, he joined his brother Pat as one of 15 wrestlers named to the NCAA’s 75th Anniversary Team.

The Smith family legacy is strong at Oklahoma State, as John’s older brother Lee Roy was a three-time All-American in 1977, 1979 and 1980 and claimed the 1980 national championship. John was a three-time All-American in 1985, 1987 and 1988 with a pair of national titles in 1987 and 1988, while his younger brother Pat was a four-time All-American with four national championships in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. In 2020, John’s son, Joe, completed his career as a Cowboy as a three-time All-American.

Smith also successfully established a wrestling club that allows wrestlers from across the country to prepare and train for international competition. The Gator Wrestling Club sent three former Oklahoma State wrestlers to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games. Jamill Kelly won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, with Daniel Cormier finishing fourth and Eric Guerrero also representing the USA in Athens.

In 1995, Smith married the former Toni Donaldson. The couple has three sons – Joseph, Samuel and Levi and two daughters – Isabelle and Cecilia.

Sally Roberts

Wrestling

Served as envoy

  • 2022  –  Azerbaijan

Sally Roberts is a former elite wrestler and Combat Veteran and the Founder and CEO of Wrestle Like a Girl (R) whose mission is to empower girls and women using the sport of wrestling to become leaders in life. Sally is living proof that girls can do anything and that through sport they can realize their full potential. She is the youngest of three children and was the first person in her family to graduate high school, graduate college, and earn an advanced degree.

Sally was a resident at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center for eight years during which time she was a Three-Time National Champion, a World Cup Champion, a Two-Time World Bronze Medalist, and an Olympic alternate. She served six years in the Army as a Special Operations soldier where she volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan. Sally was also a member of the Army’s prestigious World Class Athlete Program and represented both the U.S. Army and Team USA in elite athletic competitions. As a passionate veteran and military advocate, Sally was recently featured as the cover story in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) magazine and appeared on the VFW National Campaign video.

Sally was the recipient of the 2016 Women in Sport Award on behalf of the United World Wrestling Sports Governing Body and the International Olympic Committee and was extremely honored to be named USA Wrestling ‘Woman of the Year’ for 2018. Sally was also selected as one of 25 elite women representing seven nations and 23 sports who were chosen to participate in the EY Women Athletes Business Network, a mentoring program designed to prepare and propel high-potential women leaders to greater heights of achievement through mentorship and leadership training, provided by the International Women’s Forum and its Leadership Foundation.

She is an ambassador for TrueSport, the grassroots organization for the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Sally participated in the Global Goals World Cup Activist Soccer Tournament playing for Team Sports Equality Enforcers that promoted the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Sally is also a highly sought-after speaker and author. She spoke at the United Nations ‘Global Good’ Summit, was a guest speaker on Coldwell Banker’s Speakers Series on Portraits of What Moves Her: Overcoming Obstacles, and Sally and Wrestle Like A Girl were featured on Megyn Kelly’s Today talk show. Sally recently wrote Op-Ed columns for USA Wrestling entitled The power of engagement in State Sanctioning efforts for Girls Wrestling and United We All Rise; the Power of Unity and Collaboration in Sports.

Sally earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and a Master of Arts in Sport and Performance Psychology from University of the Rockies. She earned a certification in nutrition from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Craig Esherick

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Azerbaijan

Craig Esherick is an Associate Professor in the Sport Management program at George Mason University, where the 2020 Fall Semester will be his thirteenth year. He is the Associate Director of the Center for Sport Management, the Academic Program Coordinator for the Sport Management program and also the Internship Coordinator.

Professor Esherick was a scholarship basketball player at Georgetown University while earning an undergraduate finance degree from the business school.

He attended the Georgetown University Law Center and was a graduate assistant basketball coach for two of those years. After graduating from law school and passing the DC Bar Exam, Professor Esherick became a full-time assistant coach at Georgetown for the men’s basketball team. His tenure as an assistant lasted 17 and a half years and included a stint as the assistant basketball coach for the USA Olympic Team that won a bronze medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. He became the head basketball coach in 1999 at Georgetown University and held that position long enough to win 103 games. He worked briefly for AOL’s new online radio venture from 2004 until 2005, where he commented on-air about college basketball news and wrote articles for the AOL Sports website. Craig took a job with a startup television network in New York in May of 2005; that network, CSTV, has now become CBS College Sports. Esherick came to Mason from NYU, where he taught in their Graduate Sports Management program for two years.

Craig has written or edited several books, articles and book reviews on a variety of topics in the sports industry. These works can be found in the History of Sport Encyclopedia, Sports Management and Marketing Encyclopedia, Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, History and Sport, Leadership in Sport, Cultures of Peace, The Journal of Sport for Development and the International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing. Esherick’s book titles include the third, fourth and fifth editions of Media Relations in Sport, Case Studies in Sport Diplomacy and Fundamentals of Sport Management.

Esherick has served on several Arlington and Fairfax County, Virginia boards and committees. He has worked with the US Department of State on many grants and sport diplomacy projects from 2009 to 2019. Craig provides expert commentary for news outlets, television and radio during college basketball season, primarily working for the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), Learfield and the Stadium/Sinclair network.

Chineze Nwagbo

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Kosovo
  • 2019  –  Azerbaijan
  • 2019  –  Albania
  • 2019  –  Tanzania

Chineze Nwagbo started her basketball career at Duval Senior High School, in Lanham, Maryland where she is recognized as a 4 yr. varsity letter recipient, and two-time team captain. Her honors include2back-to-back State Championship Titles, All-American Honorable Mention, All-County First Team, All-Gazette, USA Today’s Most Improved and Most Important Player to Scout in Maryland, amongst a myriad of other accomplishments. She is a former Syracuse University student-athlete, who earned her Business of Science degree in Biology. Shortly after graduating from Syracuse, Chinny went on to play as a professional basketball player for 11 years all over the world. She has played in various countries such as Spain(for six years), Chile, Brazil, Poland(for 3 years), Portugal, Israel, where she afforded 4 MVP Titles, and also appeared in the World Championship Games in 2006, representing her parent’s native country Nigeria.Currently, Chinny has ventured to new horizons working for the NBA, in China, developing grassroots implementation of NBA based basketball curriculum in various areas of Jr. NBA programs, also for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders developmental camps, and has been brought on to work for the Atlanta Hawks,NY Knicks, Washington Wizards, and the National Basketball Players Association.She has also participated as a lecturer, coach, and professor of the game for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Sports Diplomacy program, which was designed in efforts to bring global communities together. She has also dedicated her time as a Motivational Speaker to various youth programs all over the world, and amazing non-profits geared toward providing resources for underprivileged inner-city student-athletes. In her spare time, she frequents New Channel 8’s Sports talk show as a guest sports analyst and hopes to play an instrumental role in the growth of the game, especially serving as a role model to young female athletes.

John Cone

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2010  –  Azerbaijan

After playing soccer at the collegiate level, Dr. John Cone began his coaching career as Assistant Coach at the Metropolitan State College of Denver in 1998. From then, he served a variety of positions at Colorado Rush, The University of Tennessee, SoccerPlus Camps, CASL, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sporting KC, Portland Timbers, and USSF. In 2005, Dr. Cone co-founded Fit for 90, an online soccer-specific sports science consulting company, of which he is the current CEO. In 2010, Dr. Cone graduated from UNC Greensboro with a Ph.D. in Kinesiology.

Cindy Parlow Cone

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2006  –  Bahrain
  • 2008  –  El Salvador
  • 2010  –  Azerbaijan

Current: Currently President of United States Soccer Federation. Prior to this, Parlow Cone served as Vice President for a year before being inducted as President. She was also inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2018.

U.S. National Team: One of the greatest scorers in U.S. history, she retired from international soccer in 2006 after having played 158 times for the USA while scoring 75 goals, good for fifth all-time on the U.S. scoring list … Also had 31 assists in her nine-year National Team career … Youngest player ever to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Women’s World Cup title … Played in her final international match on Dec. 8, 2004, a 5-0 win over Mexico that was also the final game for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain … 2004: Played in two matches at the 2004 Olympics, starting one … Played in 24 total matches, starting 11 and scored 10 goals with eight assists, finishing third on the team in scoring behind Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm … Scored six of her 10 goals in two games, getting hat tricks against Haiti at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and against Ireland on the “Fan Celebration Tour” … Her two hat tricks gave her seven for her career, moving her past Michelle Akers and putting her in second place on the all-time hat tricks list, one behind Mia Hamm … 2003: Started 17 of the 19 games she played, scoring eight goals with one assist … Became just the fifth player in U.S. history to score 60 or more goals (there are now six) … Scored four goals against England on May 17 in Birmingham, Ala., it was her first-four goal game for the USA … Started five games during the Women’s World Cup, scoring two goals, both on headers, against Sweden and Nigeria … 2002: Scored 11 goals, second best on the team, in just 14 games, all of which she started … Scored twice in a big 4-0 win over Norway on April 27 … Scored six goals across four consecutive games, sandwiched by two-goal games on July 21 (a 4-0 win over Norway) and Oct. 2 (a 4-0 win over Australia) … Scored five goals in the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, including a hat trick in the 7-0 semi-final win over Costa Rica that earned the U.S. a berth in the 2003 Women’s World Cup … 2001: Played in three matches for the USA during a limited schedule, starting all three and scoring one goal, that against Germany in the only game of the 2001 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup … 2000: Had a breakout scoring year, leading the team with 19 goals and seven assists … Had four hat tricks, one short of a U.S. record for a calendar year … Had back-to-back hat tricks in the Pacific Cup on June 2 vs. Canada and June 4 vs. New Zealand, making her only the second U.S. player to ever score three goals in two consecutive games … Played in 31 games, but only started 15, scoring a goal for every 76 minutes on the field … Was one of just two players to come off the bench for the USA in their run to the silver medal in the 2000 Olympics … Played a total of 112 minutes across the five Olympic matches … 1999: Started all six games for the USA in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, scoring two goals with two assists, including the first goal against Brazil in the semifinal … Emerged as a starter for the USA in March of ’99 after finally overcoming a nagging hamstring injury … Also scored in the USA’s 7 1 win over Nigeria in Women’s World Cup first round play on a diving header … 1998: Saw limited action for the USA in 1998 due to senior year commitments to North Carolina, but played in 13 games, starting seven, and scored goals against world powers Norway and Germany … Was a member of the Goodwill Games gold medal-winning team during the summer of 1998 … Won U.S. Soccer’s first Chevy Young Female Athlete of the Year Award in 1998 … 1997: Scored the winning goal in the championship game of Nike U.S. Women’s Cup ’97, heading in a cross from Kristine Lilly in the 2 0 win over Italy … 1996: Was the youngest member of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics at age 18 … Scored twice in her full U.S. National Team debut against Russia on Jan. 14, 1996, in Campinas, Brazil … 1995: First trained with the U.S. Women’s National Team in March 1995 … Youth National Teams: Played with the U.S. Under 20 National Team at the 1997 Nordic Cup championship in Denmark in 1997, scoring twice in the tournament to lead the USA to the championship … Also played for the U.S. Under 21s at the Nordic Cup in Holland in the summer of 1998, leading the team in scoring with two goals … Was also a member of the U 16 National Team pool … First Appearance: Jan. 14, 1996, vs. Russia … First Goal: Jan. 14, 1996, vs. Russia.

Professional / Club: A founding player in the WUSA for the Atlanta Beat … 2003: Helped the Beat to the Founders Cup championship match with a solid season that included three goals and five assists as she started 17 of the 18 games in which she played … Played mostly in the midfield for the Beat … Named as a reserve to the WUSA All-Star Team … 2002: Started 18 of the 19 games in which she played, scoring five goals with four assists … Helped the Beat to the playoffs for the second consecutive year … 2001: Helped lead the Beat to the WUSA championship game … Scored the game-winning goal in sudden death overtime against the Philadelphia Charge in the WUSA semifinals … Had five goals and seven assists for the Beat during the regular season, finishing 10th in the league in scoring … Was named to the All-WUSA Second Team … Etc.: Her Memphis Football Club won the state championship from 1990 1995 and finished second in the nation at the U 17 level in 1995 … Her club won regional championships in 1992 and 1995 … Named MVP at the 1995 Under 17 U.S. Youth Soccer national tournament.

College / High School: Ended her career for the University of North Carolina with 68 goals and 53 assists in 103 games … The consensus top player in college soccer in 1998, she won both the Hermann Trophy and the M.A.C. Player of the Year Award, joining Mia Hamm as the only two time winner of both awards … Also won the Hermann and M.A.C. after her junior year … Helped UNC to an undefeated regular season and to the NCAA championship game in 1998, leading the team in scoring with 21 goals and 11 assists … Led UNC in game winning goals with seven and was named 1998 ACC Player of the Year … Named a First Team NSCAA All American four times (1995, ’96, ’97 and ’98) … As a junior, she helped UNC to the 1997 NCAA championship, scoring 13 goals with 18 assists … Scored the game-winning goal in the final … Was a First Team All ACC selection in 1996, ’97 and ’98 and the MVP of the ACC Tournament in 1997 … Named to the NCAA All Tournament Team all four years … Overcame early season injuries to lead North Carolina to the 1996 NCAA championship as a sophomore … Scored 15 goals and had 11 assists for 41 points and was a finalist for the 1996 Hermann Trophy and M.A.C. Award … Was the Soccer America Freshman of the Year in 1995 … Voted All ACC and ACC Rookie of the Year as a freshman … Had 17 goals and 12 assists in her freshman year at UNC … Entered the University of North Carolina after completing high school in three years … Named the 1994 Tennessee High School Player of the Year … Was a three time all region and all state selection at Germantown High … Was also honored as MVP of state and regional tournaments … Was one of only two players in Tennessee prep history to score more than 100 goals in a career (105 in just three seasons) and is the all time state leader in assists with 83 … Was also a two time high school All American … Named school MVP in basketball as a freshman.

Personal: Full name is Cynthia Marie Parlow Cone… Nickname is “CP” … Was a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll from 1996 1998 … Enjoys golf, reading and watching movies … Grew up playing soccer against her three brothers (two older and one younger) … Had a 4.0 GPA in high school and ranked in the top five percent in her class … Majored in Education at UNC …Graduated from UNC with honors… Favorite movie is “Shawshank Redemption” … Favorite athlete is Lance Armstrong … Favorite restaurant is The Latern, an Asian fusion place in Chapel Hill, but her favorite food is “anything my mom cooks”… Her favorite book is “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay … Has a street ( Cindy Parlow Drive ) named after her in her hometown of Memphis , Tenn. … Holds her own soccer camps in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as well as Cheyenne, Wyoming.