The Nov. 10-14 U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship hosted by Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, marked the first Holmes Awards recognizing off-field contributions to the game of rugby by a Canadian University Women’s Rugby student-athlete.
The Col. W.D.C. Holmes Awards are presented by Michael Holmes through the Canadian Rugby Foundation in memory of his late father, Lt. Col. W.D.C. Holmes, who won the sword of honour at RMC in 1942 before heading off to England with a commission in the British Army in the Second World War. In his 25 year career with the British Army he fought in numerous campaigns and was awarded both the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order for bravery in the Korean War.
Sixteen awards of $500 are presented to the 8 Women’s and 8 Men’s teams in the Rugby National Championships, to go towards each team’s Athletic Financial Awards (AFAs). The award recognizes the player on each team who has best contributed to the game of rugby at their university and community in the past year. The goal is to encourage the future leaders of the sport of rugby across Canada and recognize off-the-field vs. on-field performance, Examples of factors to be considered could include organizing community events involving the team, mentoring younger players, volunteering with home rugby club, or at the community in which the university is located, volunteering as a club executive or an official at any level, and providing off-the-field leadership on the university team.
Eight women were recognized for their off-the-field contributions to the game of rugby, each representing the eight Universities competing at the Women’s Rugby Nationals as follow:
Sophie-Rose Pickard – Acadia University, 5th Year Kinesiology
Sophie has been a standout team player on and off the field and took the role to new heights this season. Her positive attitude and personality are infectious among the team – even if she’s having a down day. She is a go-to for anyone who need an ear to listen or a helping hand. Soph is always willing to contribute in any way she can; active participation in film sessions, practices, technical questions to provide learning moments for younger players. She is the epitome of what a rugby player is, she spins everything in a positive way and will bring her lessons from rugby her wherever life takes her. Throughout her years as a student-athlete, Soph has shown great resilience in both athletics and academic pursuits. No matter her adversities, Sophie has always remained grounded, true to herself, and have become a role model for younger players. Sophie plans to move back home to Newfoundland upon graduation to help women’s programs develop and succeed on the national stage.
Amelia Stapley – Queen’s University, 4th Year Arts & Science
Amelia has been an incredible teammate for 4 years within the Queen’s Women’s Rugby program. She is always going out of her way to support her teammates – especially our 1st years – to ensure they are well looked after. Amelia also volunteers her time at her local rugby club, coaching mini rugby and helping pass on her love for the sport.
Dani Franada – St. Francis Xavier University, 4th Year Business
Dani is a player every coach wants to have; she makes her teammates better by just being on the field. She is a leader on the field, in the dressing room, and in the StFX leadership academy. She is respected by our younger players and is well liked by all her teammates. She is kind and considerate of others and looks to lead by example.
Annabelle Parent – Université Laval, 4th Year Intervention Sportif
Annabelle has been plenty involved in the rugby community during the covid period. She managed different programs and academies for kids between 6 and 21 years old according to public health authorities. She also volunteers to make known rugby in high school and primary school all over Quebec and his region. Despite recovering from ACL injuries, she never stops helping the growth of our sport during this period.
Rori Woods – University of British Columbia, 3rd Year Kinesiology
Rori has been a huge part as a coach and program leader with the UBC mini rugby program. This is her second year. The program runs for 8 to10 weeks in Term One and again in term two during the school year. The program runs every Sunday morning, with 50 children aged 3 to 9. Rori has also been involved in a UBC recruit camp that took place during the summer break. Rori has also supported the UBC female rugby academy as a coach and mentor to potential new recruits. Rori is also a huge part in the University leadership group.
Hannah Beaumont – University of Guelph, 5th Year Human Kinetics
Hannah is a speedster on the pitch that can score tries and track down any opponent. She’s the top try scorer this season with a whopping 10 tries. She’s courageous in contact at such high speeds and does this with a smile on her face. Hannah is an exceptional player and teammate. She has made her mark on the gryphon program and will be missed immensely following her graduation.
Ngozi Mosindi – University of Ottawa, 2nd Year Criminology
Since Ngozi has become a part of the Gee-Gees, she has been extreemely involved in all aspects of what we do on and off the field. She has been a part of our Task Force for Equity and Diversity, where she hosted a 3-part Black Women in Sport: Speaker Series. Apart from all Ngozi has done with the Task Force, she has been a main support with player recruitment. She has been in contact with recruits all fall, hosting zoom meetings, supporting trial days, and maintaining connections. In the zoom sessions, Ngozi leads recruits through their questions and gives insight to our program. Ngozi has also helped with the development of our younger players by supporting their development games and the growth of other young athletes in Ottawa. She has planned and ran sessions with the rugby team at Heritage College as well as Ashbury Colleges’ football team.
Ada Okonkwo – University of Victoria, 4th Year Masters in Public Health
Ada has been an incredible advocate and leader for the Vikes Women’s Rugby team, the Vikes athletics department, the university and in the community this past year. She is currently completing her master’s in Public Health and has a passion for uplifting the voices of the BIPOC community. Ada also organized our team to all wear orange and consulted with the indigenous community on campus to make sure our game on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was done properly and with respect. For the university, Ada is a member of the Vikes Student-athlete Leadership Council. She provides advice to Vikes Athletics Department for leadership on advancing the culture of excellence associated with varsity athletics and the student-athlete experience, as well as any issues related to BIPOC. In consultation with the Indigenous Academic & Community Engagement Department, In the community, Ada has used her voice to advance the BIPOC community. She was involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and spoke at the peaceful protests in Victoria. She also organized a peaceful protest at Victoria City Hall to bring global awareness and attention to the violation of human rights and injustices against Nigerian youths #ENDSARS.
Presentations were made by Hans de Goede a Director of the Foundation (whose daughter Sophie captained the Gold medal-winning Queen’s Gaels and was named the Tournament MVP) and Jeff Chan, Executive Director of the Foundation.