After some deliberation, RugbyMag.com has named its Women's Collegiate All Americans for the 2010-2011 season. It was difficult to narrow down the field and forego well-known names for some up-and-coming talent who impressed national selectors, and an equally impressive "honorable mention" list is necessary to give everyone their due respect.
Accolades go to repeat All Americans Sadie Anderson, Kyle Armstrong, Jozy Gessner, Keelia Harker, Lisa Henneman, Joanna Kitlinski, Tyra McGrady, Deven Owsiany and Frances Wehrwein. They all had another impressive year around the pitch and represent some of the country's best collegiate athletes.
Performances at all level of the game were weighed, even non-USA Rugby events like the CRC 7s in early June. Individual praise from national team coaches like Bryn Chivers (USA U20), Ric Suggitt (USA 7s) and Pete Steinberg (USA Women's 15s) also helped identify players who typically wouldn't be on display at national championships.
The most recognizable names are those who played in the DI national championships in May. From title-stealing Army, DI MVP Annie Lee, Jess Sexauer, Kayla Orvik and Sylvia Thomas established themselves as must-adds. Sexauer and Orvik were particularly stunning at the CRC 7s, which the cadets also won in Philadelphia, and familiarized an even larger crowd with the team's stellar team speed.
The DI championship and CRC 7s runner-up, Penn State, also sees a number of players named to the All American list. Anderson was the lone college player who Steinberg invited to the most recent Women's National Team camp in late June. Owsiany also proved herself on the international 7s circuit, accompanying the Eagles to Las Vegas and Hong Kong 7s tournaments. Pound for pound, she's one of the hardest-hitting, hardest working players on the college scene today. Suggitt was also happy to add South Carolina's Ryan Carlyle to the Hong Kong roster, and the speedster did not disappoint.
Some other memorable matches during the DI national championships highlighted some outstanding players. Virginia advanced to the final four with a gripping overtime win over Brown, and intimidating wing Erica Cavanaugh was a major force that propelled her team so far into playoffs. Michigan nearly upset Brown in the opening round of nationals, but with big, aggressive forwards like Kadie Sanford, the near-win shouldn't have been such a surprise.
Navy and Women's Cougar Rugby (WCR) also butted heads in the quarterfinals, with the 7-0 decision falling to the Cougars. Navy was led by Jenn Sandifer and Jane Paar, who was also exciting to watch during the CRC 7s. WCR's Kristi Jackson proved that she's one of the best inside centers in the country, and wins undying praise from coach Tom Waqa.
Chivers was on hand at the national championships and took note of Whitney White, another big wing from New Mexico State, WCR’s Monica Jackson (prop) and Harker (wing), and Notre Dame center Ashley Okonta. The coach was particularly excited to have them at the U20s' most recent camp.
The Collegiate All Star Championships also did well to acknowledge some players who didn't share in the national playoff limelight. Title-winning Midwest was jam-packed with familiar names, and they didn't disappoint on game day. No. 8 Joanna Kitlinski (Grand Valley State) and scrumhalf Brittany Houston (UW Milwaukee) propelled the Thunderbirds past the USA U20s in the final – a difficult task considering the junior Eagles boasted players like McGrady and Alycia Washington. Julia Fortkort (Texas), Hannah Lockwood (Oregon State) and Jen Sever (California) scored several tries for their respective all-star squads, and earned their way onto the AA list.
RugbyMag.com’s 2010-11 Women’s Collegiate All Americans
Katie Andrews (Navy)
Kyle Armstrong (Penn State)
Kayla Ellingson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Julia Fortkort (Texas)
Jozy Gessner (Colorado State)
Monica Jackson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Katie Johnson (UW Milwaukee)
Joanna Kitlinski (Grand Valley State)
Kelsey McIlione (UC San Diego)
Kayla Orvik (Army)
Lauren Poole (Penn State)
Christian Pheil (Penn State)
Jenn Sandifer (Navy)
Kadie Sanford (Michigan)
Jen Sever (California)
Alycia Washington (Connecticut)
Frances Wehrein (Stanford)
Sadie Anderson (Penn State)
Akalaini Baravilala (At Large)
Ryan Carlyle (South Carolina)
Erica Cavanaugh (Virginia)
Delaney Chapman (UCLA)
Keelia Harker (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Shakeela Faulkner (Brown)
Chelsea Garber (Brown)
Lisa Henneman (Penn State)
Brittany Houston (UW Milwaukee)
Kristi Jackson (Women's Cougar Rugby)
Annie Lee (Army)
Hannah Lockwood (Oregon State)
Tyra McGrady (Indiana University)
Ashley Okonta (Notre Dame)
Deven Owsiany (Penn State)
Jane Paar (Navy)
Kimber Rozier (North Carolina)
Jessica Sexauer (Army)
Sylvia Thomas (Army)
Whitney White (New Mexico State)