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Richelle Stephens Wins MA Sorensen Award

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Richelle Stephens Wins MA Sorensen Award

Richelle Stephens in action for Lindenwood. Todd Lunow photo.

Lindenwood University flyhalf Richelle Stephens has been named the 2021 MA Sorensen Award-winner as the best women's player in American College Rugby.

A product of Fallbrook HS in Southern California, Stephens played in the 2016 Olympic Games just barely out of high school. Her experience there helped her make the transition to collegiate rugby. She didn't miss a beat, captaining Lindenwood to six national championships in 15s and 7s. She has been the starter at flyhalf all five years of her time at Lindenwood and remains part of the USA HP pathway.

She was voted Players' Player of the year by her teammates multiple years, just completed her degree in Paramedicine, and run the attack for the best offense in women's collegiate rugby.

She is a potent runner and effective defender, but added to that is her vision, kicking ability, ability to put her teammate in space, and her leadership.

The MA Sorensen Award is presented by the Washington Athletic Club every year, and in non-COVID times the WAC hosts an awards dinner in Seattle for the recipient. Last year and this year the dinner has not been held and there will be a Awards Show for the 2021 Scholz and Sorensen award winners. The women's award is named after Maryanne Sorensen, who won a Rugby World Cup with the USA in 1991, was a trailblazing player in college (William & Mary) and throughout her career, playing at the highest level, while also pursuing a hugely successful career in the medical field—a field where she continues to excel. She is a perfect example of the kinds of people women's collegiate rugby produces.

The award itself is decided using a panel of coaches and experts, which develops a list of nominees. The rugby public also votes for a nominee. That list of nominees is then whittled down to a group of finalists, again with the rugby public, and college rugby team leaders, participating in the vote.

That list of finalists for 2021 was:

Richelle Stephens, Lindenwood; Kathryn Stowers, BYU, Mae Sagapolu, Centra Washington University; Su Adegoke, Life University

The panel of coaches and experts (including GRR's own Alex Goff, who moderates the voting, and The Rugby Breakdown's Jackie Finlan) then votes on the winner.

All MA Sorensen Award Winners:

2016: Hope Rogers, Penn State
2017: Ilona Maher, Quinnipiac
2018: MacKenzie Hawkins, Lindenwood
2019: Emily Henrich, Dartmouth
2020: Alexandria Sedrick, Life University
2021: Richelle Stephens, Lindenwood