2015 Anne Warner Cribbs (USA)
When she was five years of age, this little girl learned to swim so fast and well that her 17 year-old instructor, Jim Gaughran, told her and her parents that she was going to be a great swimmer one day. When she was eight years old, Anne Warner’s parents signed her up for the Santa Clara Swim Club, where she became something of a child prodigy. Swimming for legendary coach and Hall of Famer George Haines, she won a gold medal in the 200 meter breaststroke at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, at fourteen years old. A year later, at the Rome Olympics, she was part of USA’s medley relay swimming in prelims. While the men’s Olympic team went off on a celebratory European tour, the women were sent home. Without having a high school team or college scholarship opportunities in the pre-title IX era, and having other interests, she retired from competitive swimming at the ripe old age of 15.
By the time she was 24, and with the youngest of her two children from her first marriage in kindergarten, she was motivated to go back to school. Anne graduated with the President’s Medal at Foothill College, but the final step to getting her undergraduate degree was delayed by a second marriage to Ian Cribbs, which created a combined family of seven children. The two had another daughter before she enrolled at Stanford in 1976, and she was pregnant with their eighth when she graduated in 1979. In 1985, after years of coaching & teaching swimming in the Bay Area, Anne went to work for the City of Palo Alto in the Community Services Department.
In 1991, she formed Cavalli & Cribbs, an advertising and public relations firm that came to specialize in marketing and event management, which successfully marketed the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the Bay Area. She had always yearned to do something more for female athletes. Perhaps it was the abrupt end of her own swimming career, or that eight of her nine children are girls. That chance came in 1995, when she helped write women’s sporting history as a co-founder of the American Basketball League (ABL), the first women’s professional basketball league in the United States. It was so that after college, female basketball players could play basketball – an American game, on American soil, in the traditional basketball season. During its existence, the ABL set the standard for what women’s professional sports could and should become, creating a permanent legacy and forever changing the paradigm.
In 1999, she was selected to be the CEO of the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, or BASOC, and became the first female to lead a major US Olympic Bid Committee: San Francisco 2012. While the bid ultimately lost to New York, it had an unprecedented 90% approval rating from the public. She continues today as the President/CEO of BASOC, which over the past twenty years has hosted or helped to organize many events, including the 2006 FINA World Masters Championships. She produced the 40th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy with American & Chinese table tennis Olympians, was chair of the 2009 Summer National Senior Games, and Director of 2011 USA Swimming National and Junior National Championships at Stanford.
Olympian, mother, wife, business woman, proponent of the Olympic sports and opportunities for female athletes, and role model!
Recipients of the Gold Medallion Award.