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National College Awards Announced

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National College Awards Announced

The Washington Athletic Club of Seattle, Wash. and Goff Rugby Report, with the support of USA Rugby, announced Thursday night that they will collaborate on two new college players awards.

The WAC will present two College DI Player of the Year awards at an awards ceremony in Seattle on June 11. The men's award is called the Rudy Scholz Awards, and the women's award is called the MA Sorensen Award. This initiative was announced officially at a reception and press conference at the WAC in Seattle Thursday, Feb. 11. The announcement was made by Wayne Milner, Senior Vice President of Athletics, Special Projects & Community Partners for the Washington Athletic Club, and he was joined by Rich Cortez, USA Rugby's Collegiate Director, Alex Goff, Goff Rugby Report Editor, and David Scholz, the son of Rudy Scholz.

"It's an honor to be here and be a part of this," said Cortez.

Rudy Scholz with the USA Olympic team in 1924. Photo courtesy Rugby Historical Society.
Rudy Scholz

Rudy Scholz played rugby for Santa Clara University and was a leader and the scrumhalf for the USA when they won the Gold Medal in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games. Scholz was a decorated veteran of the US Army, serving in both World Wars and retiring as a colonel. He was a successful attorney, and longtime rugby player, playing his final game at the age of 83. Dave Scholz, Rudy's youngest son, and a former rugby player himself at Stanford and Olympic Club, said rugby was a great passion of his father's, and the entire family was deeply honored to be associated with the award.

The MA Sorensen Award is given to the best US college rugby in women’s D1 competition (including D1 and varsity). Maryanne "MA" Sorensen played rugby at William & Mary and was in fact on the first women’s rugby team ever to take the field at the school. A brilliant student and athlete, MA went on to medical school and earned her MD and is a board certified anesthesiologist. During the 1980’s and 1990’s she continued to develop as a rugby player and was the starting prop on the US team that won the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup. She later became a coach and is a member of the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Hall of Fame. 

Upon being notified that her name would adorn the women's player of the year award, Sorensen said: :I am so so grateful and humbled by this honor."

MA Sorensen, front row on left, with the World Cup-winning 1991 USA women's national team.
USA WNT 1991

 

Players Help Pick the Winners

"One of the most exciting things about this is that the awards will be chosen partly by the players," said Goff. "This is in keeping with the tradition the WAC has for some of its other awards."

Two panels have been assembled to develop a list of nominees from DI-level college rugby - one for men, and one for women.

In March, that list will be made public and college rugby teams around the country will be asked to vote - each team will be asked to convene and vote for their choice, and then whoever wins that team's vote will be recorded as one vote for that player. The players' vote will whittle the list down to three finalists, and then the panels will reconvene to choose the winner.

The panels are:

Scholz Award: Alex Goff, Goff Rugby Report; Sean Duffy, University of Arizona; Brandon Sparks, University of Michigan; Gavin Hickie, Collegiate All Americans and Dartmouth College; Kevin Battle, D1A Rugby/USA Rugby.

Sorensen Award: Alex Goff, Goff Rugby Report jointly with Jackie Finlan, the Rugby Breakdown; Kate Daley, Penn State University/All American program; Rosalind Chou, Life University; Tom Waqa, BYU; Tam Breckenridge, USA Rugby.

 

"This is an exciting development because it elevates the idea of a collegiate award," concluded Goff. "The Washington Athletic Club does these things right. They flew Dave Scholz to Seattle just for the announcement, and Dave and MA will be at the award ceremony, as will the award recipients. This will be a celebration of the game, and of the college game and the student-athletes who play it. And it will also help raise the sport in the eyes of general sports fans."