As the longest-running Canadian sporting league for women, the Maritime Women’s Football League is celebrating its landmark tenth anniversary season. Part of the celebration included the announcement of an All-Decade Team.
Of all the franchises in the league, the Capital Area Lady Gladiators (based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick) had a league-best 11 players on the All-Decade Team. Leading the way is one of the greatest players in league history; Alex Black.
Along with Lisa Harlow of the Saint John Storm, she holds a record seven All-Star nods. The franchise player for the red and gold, she is also its quarterback. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she is the only player with seven consecutive All-Star nods, ranging from 2006 to 2012.
In addition, she has gained two awards in her storied career. During her rookie campaign of 2006, a teenaged Black earned the Most Outstanding Player on Offense award. Two years later, she was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player in the entire league.
Robyn Neill and Kristin Chatterton are not only All-Decade Team selections, but played with Black on the silver-medal winning Canadian National Women’s Team from the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Vantaa, Finland. Although Neill is a prominent offensive lineman, and Chatterton is an anchor on defense, they helped the Lady Gladiators reach the 2012 SupHer Bowl.
Prior to competing with the Lady Gladiators in 2012, Chatterton was a three time MWFL All-Star selection with the rival Moncton Vipers. Earning the All-Star nods in 2009, 2010 and 2011, her signing with the Glads yielded remarkable results. In addition to a fourth consecutive All-Star nod, she capped off her season with the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.
Starring on the offensive line since her teens, Neill is the engine that runs the offensive line. As a four-time MWFL All-Star, she is more than just an elite blocker, but a tremendous leader. She would learn her craft from Courtney Hallett, the 2005 Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman. Her mark on the Gladiators is unique as she is one of only three Glads competitors to be named to the All-Decade Team and the first MWFL All-Star team in league history.
One of the most versatile players in franchise history, Julia Coleman earned All-Star nods on both offense and defense. The 2007 season would signify one of her finest ever. Earning the Most Outstanding Defensive Back Award, she would also earn her second consecutive All-Star nod, respectively. Four years later, Coleman would fulfill her legacy as one of the finest defensive players in the league’s nascent history by grabbing the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award.
Part of the inaugural MWFL All-Star squad in 2005, Michelle Harrison was also a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. She was joined on the All-Decade Team by the likes of Natasha Canning, Grace Hallihan, Edna Jewett and Connie Timmons. The foursome share four MWFL All-Star nods on offense and five selections on defense.
With volunteers and coaches also recognized on the All-Decade Team, Michelle Coleman and Cheryl O’Leary proudly represent the squad. Coleman boasts an MWFL All-Star selection from 2009, while O’Leary is making the transition to coaching.
While she still competes, she has also volunteered in an executive capacity with the Glads, while serving as an offensive line coach. For the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, she was a mentor coach for Team Canada, serving on Olivier Eddie’s special teams unit. Her future in coaching puts the ensures great success will continue for the signature franchise of the MWFL.