Dartmouth College center Emily Henrich, already capped by the USA as a freshman, has won the MA Sorensen Award as the top women’s college player of 2018-19.
Henrich, who earned her first USA cap in November against New Zealand, has entered college rugby and not missed a step after being a high school standout for Orchard Park in New York, and with the select touring side Atlantis.
A physical and athletic center who understands the game, Henrich brought with her plenty of experience when joining Dartmouth. She started playing flag rugby at the age of six, and with Orchard Park so near the Canadian border, she also played with teams in Ontario, expanding her knowledge of the sport in a way that is rare for young women in the USA.
It showed. She became a starter immediately for Dartmouth and helped lead the Big Green to a NIRA championship.
"Going to the college level, everyone is at such a higher level,” Henrich told FloRugby in the fall. “You can really trust the people net to you to do their job and that allows you to thrive as a player. Being at Dartmouth is great. We have so many resources. Everyone on the team gets along so well, and the older girls have welcomed the new girls with open arms."
The MA Sorensen Award is named for MaryAnn Sorensen, who was a groundbreaking player for William & Mary and who was a USA international prop while also achieving her medical degree. Sorensen helped the USA win the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991, and went on to have a long and successful USA career, as well as being a successful domestic player and coach, and becoming a highly-regarded anesthesiologist.
The award itself is chosen through a combination of a panel of experts, fan voting, and votes from teams and coaches around the USA.
The panel, with input from fans, names a nominee group. Fans and teams (either their coaches or their officers) vote in two separate polls to whittle the nominees down to a group of finalists.
Then the panel votes for the winner.
“The voting was extremely close this year,” said Alex Goff, Senior Editor of FloRugby. “This was an indication, I think, that we just had a really competitive group of players. Every finalist—Emily Henrich, McKenzie Hawkins, AnnaKaren Pedraza, Megan Rom, and Kat Ramage—should be congratulated. Being one of the top five players in the entire country is something they should all be very proud of.”
The MA Sorensen Award and Rudy Scholz Award were begun in the 2015-16 season by the Washington Athletic Club of Seattle, WA. Senior VP of Athletics, Special Projects & Community Partners, Wayne Milner, spearheaded the effort, working with Goff’s help to create awards for the best college players in the country.
The awards will be presented in person at the gala event at the WAC on June 8. This is a well-attended event that has seen many prominent national team players from the past and the present come to recognize the best in college rugby.
Previous Sorensen Award Winners
2016: Hope Rogers, Penn State
2017: Ilona Maher, Quinnipiac
2018: McKenzie Hawkins, Lindenwood