(ANTIGONISH, N.S.) - Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2016 women's rugby major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference's four head coaches following the regular season. Acadia's Kelsey Brumm recognized as the AUS Community Service Award winner, while Annie Kennedy, Angela Govier, Harley Tucker, Natasha Johnson and Gillian Bergsma were named AUS All-Stars
Third-year StFX prop Joanna Alphonso has been named the Atlantic University Sport most valuable player for the second consecutive season. This is the 10th time in the past 12 seasons that a member of the StFX X-Women has earned the honour.
Other AUS major award winners announced tonight following the Subway AUS Rugby Championship final hosted by StFX University were Saint Mary's scrum half Julie Naugler of Stillwater Lake, N.S., who was named rookie of the year; Acadia wing Kelsey Brumm of Dartmouth, N.S., who received the student-athlete community service award; and UPEI Panthers head coach John LaBoyne, who was named the AUS coach of the year in his first season with the team.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Joanna Alphonso, StFX
Atlantic University Sport women's rugby's 2016 most valuable player is Joanna Alphonso of the first-place and U Sports No. 4-ranked StFX X-Women.
A third-year arts student from Ajax, Ont., this is Alphonso's second consecutive year being named the AUS most valuable player. She also earned AUS rookie of the year nods in her freshman season in 2014.
In addition to being named AUS MVP, Alphonso was named to the AUS all-star team tonight for the third consecutive year. In 2015, she was also named a CIS (now U Sports) first team all-Canadian.
This season, Alphonso had eight tries and 40 points for the X-Women.
"Joanna is captain of our squad and leads by example every minute of the game," said X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh. "Jo is a strong player on both offence and defence. She has a great nose for the try line, scoring eight tries in five games played this season. She is a fierce tackler and an excellent scrummager."
Alphonso led the StFX X-Women to an undefeated 6-0 regular season record and a first-place finish in the AUS standings.
Her win marks the 12th time a StFX women's rugby player has been crowned conference MVP since the award's inception in 2000. Past winners include fellow X-Women Emma Taylor (named MVP in 2014), Tyson Beukeboom (2012, 2011, 2010), Ghislaine Landry (2009, 2008, 2007, 2006), Danielle Goulet (2002) and Deanna Bennett (2000).
Alphonso now becomes this year's AUS nominee for U Sports most valuable player. Former X-Women standout Ghislaine Landry was the last AUS student-athlete to take home this honour. She earned the accolade in 2008 and 2007.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Julie Naugler, Saint Mary's
Julie Naugler of the Saint Mary's Huskies is the 2016 Atlantic University Sport women's rugby rookie of the year.
An arts student from Stillwater Lake, N.S., Naugler played in all six of the Huskies' regular season games this year.
A first-year scrum half with Saint Mary's, Naugler is a graduate of Rugby Nova Scotia's Keltics Academy, a program which focuses on the development of the whole athlete—concentrating on core skills development as well as strength and fitness training.
She travelled extensively with both the 15s and 7s sides during her high school career.
"Her athletic ability coupled with her dedication to perfection allowed her to develop her knowledge of the game and skills as a scrum half," said Huskies head coach Amber Davidson.
"Although she is in her first year, she's definitely a leader our players look to for direction on the field. We're proud to have her as part of the Huskies family and we're extremely excited to watch her grow with the program."
Naugler becomes just the second AUS rookie of the year to be selected from the Saint Mary's Huskies and the first since 2001 when Huskies alumna Vanessa Pike earned the honour.
Naugler also becomes the AUS nominee for the national rookie of the year award.
Former CIS player of the year Ghislaine Landry of StFX was the last Atlantic conference player to be named CIS rookie of the year in 2006. A Huskies player has yet to earn the national honour.
COACH OF THE YEAR: John LaBoyne, UPEI
In his first season at the helm of the UPEI program, Panthers head coach John LaBoyne has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic University Sport women's rugby coach of the year.
This marks the first time since 2006 that a UPEI rugby coach has earned the AUS honour. Former Panthers coach Dale MacLeod earned the honour four times—in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
This season, LaBoyne led UPEI to a 2-4 record and a spot in the 2016 AUS postseason. The Panthers narrowly missed a shot at the championship final, falling 22-17 to the defending AUS champion Acadia Axewomen in last weekend's semifinal.
Prior to becoming the UPEI head coach this past June, LaBoyne—a British Columbia native—was a consultant with the UBC Okanagan women's 7s and 15s teams. He coached the United RFC senior women to a British Columbia First Division Championship in 2015. He served as head coach at Cornell University with the Cornell women's Rugby Football Club, and he was also head coach of the Thompson Okanagan U17 girls' team at the B.C. Summer Games.
LaBoyne is an NCCP Level 2 certified coach, a certified Level 1 referee and a World Rugby Level 1 Sevens coach.
"We are all very excited and proud that John was selected as the AUS women's rugby coach of the year," said UPEI director of athletics Chris Huggan.
"John and his coaching team did an excellent job with the girls in their first year as coaches at UPEI. John has a great knowledge of and passion for the game and is an outstanding teacher of the game. Perhaps his greatest strength is how much he bonds with and cares about his players. We look forward to a bright future in women's rugby at UPEI."
LaBoyne will now become the Atlantic conference nominee for the national coach of the year award. A UPEI rugby coach has yet to earn the honour.
Acadia Axewomen head coach Matt Durant is the most recent AUS coach to be named CIS coach of the year. He took home the award in 2013.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Kelsey Brumm, Acadia
The 2016 student-athlete community service award recipient is Kelsey Brumm of the Acadia Axewomen.
A fourth-year kinesiology student from Dartmouth, N.S., Brumm is a centre with the Axewomen rugby team.
She is heavily involved in the community. She volunteers her time with an array of initiatives, including the Acadia S.M.I.L.E. program (Sensory Motor Instructional Learning Experience), working with children with autism to develop motor, cognitive and social learning skills.
Brumm is the vice president of the Exercise is Medicine group at Acadia, organizing and facilitating community events which promote physical activity and wellness. She is also a volunteer with the Annapolis Valley Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre, which helps patients to recover from cardiac episodes.
Brumm coaches children and adolescents with the Acadia Performance Training program. She is also a social event coordinator for Acadia's kinesiology society.
"Kelsey is simply an amazing young woman," said Axewomen head coach Matt Durant. "What Kelsey manages to accomplish in the realm of her volunteer work is astounding."
"What compounds these incredible accomplishments is that she is also a star in the classroom (an academic all-Canadian), holding one of the highest academic averages on our team. And, she has managed to maintain this level of involvement in volunteer work while simultaneously recovering from a season-ending knee injury last season as well as the subsequent surgical repair and rehabilitation. It is an amazing example she sets for her teammates and all U Sports student-athletes."
Brumm is the first-ever player from Acadia to be honoured with this award since its inception in 2009. She now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national award.
UPEI standout Lauren Chamberlain is the most recent recipient from the AUS conference to earn the CIS honour.
2016 AUS WOMEN'S RUGBY ALL-STARS
The 2016 Atlantic University Sport women's rugby all-stars were also announced Friday evening following the championship final. They are as follows:
Front row: Joanna Alphonso, StFX (3rd year – Ajax, Ont.)
Front row: Holly Jones, UPEI (5th year – Riverview, N.B.)
Front row: Brodie Cassata, UPEI (3rd year – Rothesay, N.B.)
Second row: Harley Tucker, Acadia (1st year – Black Diamond, Alta.)
Second row: Ellen Murphy, StFX (4th year – Augustine Cove, P.E.I.)
Back row: Angela Govier, Acadia (3rd year – New Dundee, Ont.)
Back row: Brooke Newsome, StFX (4th year – Brantford, Ont.)
Back row: Miranda Sample, StFX (3rd year – Havelock, Que.)
Scrum half: Julie Naugler, Saint Mary's (1st year – Stillwater Lake, N.S.)
Fly half: Gillian Bergsma, Acadia (4th year – Waterford, Ont.)
Centre: Jaelei Meyer, StFX (4th year – Carlyle, Sask.)
Centre: Natasha Johnson, Acadia (1st year – Williams Lake, B.C.)
Winger: Annie Kennedy, Acadia (1st year – Kingston, Ont.)
Winger: Alysha Corrigan, UPEI (3rd year – Sherwood, P.E.I.)
Fullback: Breanna Allison, StFX (4th year – Cole Harbour, N.S.)