Helen Maroulis is one of only two Olympic Gold Medal wrestlers to hail from Maryland, and she is the only Maryland public school wrestler – male or female - to reach the lofty height of Olympic Champion. Born in Rockville, Maryland, she attended Cashell Elementary School, Redland Middle School and Magruder High School until she left for Olympic Training Center in Michigan in her senior year. Ms. Maroulis attended Simon Fraser and Missouri Baptist Universities.
Ms. Maroulis began wrestling at the age of eight. In early competition, especially in high school, she wrestled mostly against males. Competing against males in a male-dominated sport was not easy, but her passion for the sport and her thirst for knowledge propelled her to continue. She helped change the landscape of wrestling in Maryland. Early in her high school wrestling career, some opposing coaches would forfeit the competition to Helen rather than send out their wrestler. Eventually, her determination and grit helped transform the attitudes of many coaches toward female wrestlers. As a high school freshman, Helen was the first female to place in the Montgomery Region 3A/4A West, and the Maryland State Wrestling Tournaments. At one tournament, she made such an impression on the coaches that she was awarded the Outstanding Wrestler award even though she placed only third in the competition. She finished her three-year high school career at Magruder with a record of 99 – 26.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Helen Maroulis earned the distinction of first U.S. woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in wrestling – and she toppled a giant to do it: women’s wrestling legend, Saori Yoshida. In addition to her Olympic gold medal, she has won the crowns of World Champion, World Cup Champion, Pan American Champion, Austria Ladies Open Champion, Russia Open Cup Champion, seven-time U.S. Open Champion, and four-time WCWA women’s college national champion. She was voted three times as the U.S. Open Outstanding Wrestler. Ms. Maroulis has won championships or medals in twelve countries including Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Cuba, France, Greece, Mongolia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and of course, the United States. As an Olympic gold Medalist, Ms. Maroulis has placed Maryland’s wrestling program “on the map.” Because of her accomplishments in wrestling – along with those of several other Maryland athletes – a new unofficial Maryland slogan was born: “Maryland is for crabs and gold medals!”
In addition to wrestling internationally, training for the Olympics and traveling the world as an ambassador for the USA women’s wrestling team ever since, Ms. Maroulis runs wrestling clinics for wrestlers of all ages and loves to share her passion for the sport, her faith and the values of hard work and preparation. Her field of endeavor is athletics and her impact is far reaching as she is a source of inspiration for women everywhere. She was selected by the United World Wrestling international federation as one of eight “Super Female Athletes” to help promote women in sport.
Because of the accomplishments of high-profile athletes such as Ms. Maroulis, there are now many more opportunities for female wrestlers in Maryland and across the country. She has paved the way for young women to set foot into wrestling rooms across the nation, and young athletes happily wait in line to meet their new idol. This athlete, Helen Maroulis, exemplifies all the qualities necessary for success in any field: preparation, hard work, training, and practice, and her success demonstrates that humility, sincerity and extreme competitiveness are not mutually exclusive qualities.
Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2017.
© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2017