THE WGF TEAM
Dana Sparling's passion for, and involvement in, women's football has been going strong both on and off the field since 2001. As a receiver, she played for four years with the New York Sharks women's t professional tackle team. Dana was also a member of the first Women's Flag Football team to represent the United States in the IFAF Flag Championships in Montreal, Canada in 2008.
Dana has spent most of her time serving in management roles and gameday event production in women's football. She has held various roles including VP of Operations, CFO, Gameday Mgr, and Social Media Mgr for the NY Sharks from 2005-2018. The "Grand Finale" Sharks season in 2018, culminated in a WFA Division 2 National Championship and a Gold medal in the Transatlantic Trophy Tournament hosted by the Birmingham Lions in the United Kingdom in September of 2018. Dana also served as Championship Director for seven IWFL Championship events between 2003 - 2016 as well as that of IWFL Atlantic Conference Director and All Star Game Director in 2017 and 2018.
Her tenure with the Fins Up Foundation for Female Athletics began in 2003, where she served as Executive Director prior the transitioning to the Women's Gridiron Foundation in September of 2015.
Dana has lived in the New York Metro area since 1990 and originally hails from Southern California where she grew up attending USC Trojan football games with her family. Her grandfather, Raymond Sparling, played split end on the National Championship winning Trojan team in 1931. Needless to say, her love of football began when she was a child and her passion for the sport runs very deep.
She received her B.A. degree in Private & Commercial Recreation from the University of the Pacific in 1985. Dana makes her living in commercial real estate and runs Choice Enterprises, a financial management and professional accounting company.
Dana is a cancer survivor and credits the love and support of her women's football family at large for getting her through such a challenging time in her life. With a new perspective on the fragility of life itself, she is more dedicated than ever to the sport of women's football and doing her part to assure an enriching, positive experience for all of the young girls and women who play this amazing sport!
Founder, Women's Gridiron Foundation
Rich was the sports director at ABC in Washington, D.C. and in 2001 he covered the D.C. Divas’ first home game - a fledgling operation of hard-working women who were paying for the opportunity to play a game they had previously been denied. They won their first home game on a last-minute touchdown catch and made the 5 o’clock news as a feature story.
Having produced hundreds of hours of Emmy award winning live and taped programming, he was convinced the Divas would make a compelling special which lead to shooting and editing countless hours of footage that he turned into two independent documentaries. During that time Rich began to help the Divas public and media relations efforts securing appearances on national channels such as the CBS Evening News, CNN, NPR, and Voice of America - along with numerous other national and local outlets.
Rich worked in the NFL as part of the video team for the Washington Redskins for nearly a decade. He was considered a member of the NFL team while still being a part of the media that covered them. It provided him a unique perspective and invaluable experience of learning how a professional team operates from all sides. His last documentary Tackle the World-Tough game-Tougher women aired on CBS in Washington, D.C. after the Women’s World Championships held in Finland in 2013.
Lately Rich has been concentrating on Do Good Videos which are a series of short films and stories designed to help charities raise the awareness and funds they need to serve the greater good.
In 2019, Rich purchased the the DC Divas Women's Tackle Football team after serving as their General Manager for many years.
Author, Founder, Fins Up! Foundation
Andra Douglas graduated with honors from Florida State University where she was a member of the two-time National Champion Women’s Rugby Team, she began playing semi-pro golf. Later, she moved to New York City where she received her Masters degree in Communications Design from Pratt Institute and went on to become a Vice President/Creative Director in the entertainment business at Time Warner.
In August of 2000, Andra purchased the New York Sharks Women's Professional Football Team. After sixteen seasons, the Sharks has established itself as a New York City staple and remain the ‘longest operating women’s professional football team in America! Known as a perennial powerhouse, the Sharks were chosen by USA Football to represent the United States in the 2008 5 on 5 Flag Football World Cup in Canada. Because of the Sharks success, Andra was featured in the Women’s Sports Foundations’ Super Women and the Smithsonian’s acclaimed book and exhibit entitled ‘Game Face: What does a Female Athlete Look Like.’
In 2003, Andra founded the Fins Up! Foundation for Female Athletes which is dedicated to improving the lives of young girls and create healthy lifestyles through participation in team sports. Currently merged with the Gridiron Foundation, Fins Up! focuses on sports camps for girls.
Returning to creative pursuits, Andra has just published a novel based on a true story called "Black and Blue".
Director of Special Projects
Susan Elizabeth Thomas has spent a lifetime supporting women in athletics. Susan has gained a wealth of experience working in non-profit leadership and strategy for several organizations over the last 15 years. These have included membership in the UWD Women's Leadership Council and mentorship in The United Way of Delaware's "Muriel E. Gilman Mentoring Program". She has over a decade of experience as a certified USA Track & Field coach. She has entrepreneurial experience as the former sole proprietor of Infinity Unlimited LLC - A Women-Specific Sports Apparel Company.
A former collegiate runner, active fitness enthusiast and devout yoga practitioner, Susan considers herself a life-long athlete. She views mental and physical fitness, healthy eating and yoga as components of an active, robust lifestyle.
Susan received her M.Ed. in Sports Administration from Temple University. Upon graduation, she worked for the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club where she served in several roles in Administration and Player Personnel. Today, Susan works with the Women's Gridiron Foundation promoting business partnerships.
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Dr. Donna Duffy
Dr. Donna Duffy earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in 2007 from the Department of Kinesiology. Prior to coming to UNCG, Donna completed her B.S. and Ed.M. at Boston University in Boston, MA. In addition to her role as a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at UNCG, Donna is also the Program Director of the Program for the Advancement of Girls and Women in Sport and Physical Activity at UNCG. Donna’s professional work and research interests are grounded in girls and women in sport and physical activity, with a heavy focus on coaching. Donna serves on several UNCG and community boards and is fortunate to serve in several leadership roles as a part of her board work. When she is not focused on her academic work, Donna spends time training for her first ½ marathon and among great friends and family.
Anthony Stone is a former USA Football Master Trainer and renowned supporter of women's tackle football. He is passionate about growing the sport of football. Coach Stone won a gold medal in 2010 with the USA Football Women's National Team as a Defensive Coordinator, compiling three impressive shut-out wins with a combined 201-0 score at the event. Coach Stone's was one of seven USA Football Master Trainers who led instruction at a pair of clinics in South Korea in May of 2015. Read his USA Football Blog.