FAIRFIELD, Conn.- The Sacred Heart University Women's Rugby team and head coach Michelle Reed announced that the team's incoming class of 2023 will feature eight new members beginning this fall.
"We have a very diverse and talented incoming class for Fall 2019. They are coming from all over to SHU and we are excited to have rugby talent from different regions of the country. These recruits will bring the most elite rugby experience as a freshmen class to date as many of them have played at the High School National Championship Tournament, on All-Star teams, and with high level traveling programs. We are looking forward to watching our 2019 freshmen mesh with our currently successful group of student-athletes." Coach Reed stated about the incoming class.
The Pioneers are happy to first welcome Stephanie Wilson from Waukesha, WI where she attended Catholic Memorial High School and helped her team to two state titles, the 2018 Midwest Championship and placed second in the 2018 Rugby High School National Championships. On a personal level she was named Rookie of the Year her freshman year, Most Improved Player and a three-time All-State Honoree.
Why she chose Sacred Heart : "I chose Sacred Heart University rugby because I believe it's a team that will work on building my character just as much as my athletic abilities. It is very clear that this team supports and values each other, both on and off the field. I feel extremely fortunate for this opportunity and I am beyond excited for this fall."
The second signee the Pioneers acquired is Makinzie Youngblood from Milwaukee, WI where she attended Divine Savior Holy Angels High School. In high school she led her team to win both the 2016 and 2018 Wisconsin State Championship as well as the 2016 and 2017 Midwest Championships. Her team also captured the 2017 National Championship. Her personal accomplishments include 2018 MVP, and a three-time All-State Honoree.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "Sacred Heart University felt like the perfect place for me to pursue a great education, while also pursuing my passion for rugby at a higher level. The environment and support of the rugby team feels right to me and I am so excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the team come Fall."
The Pioneers third signee is Isabel Keller from Silverthorne, CO. where she attended Summit High School. While on the team she was named the Academic All-State team where she was a dual threat both at the wing and flanker position.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "I chose to play for SHU because I admired the intensity and passion of the coaches and players. I believe that being a part of this program will allow me to grow immensely as a rugby player and a person."
The fourth recruit the team welcomes is McKensie Jumper who is from Eatonville, WA. This flyhalf, center attended Bethel High School where she played for the Kent Crusaders.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "I chose SHU because of the family environment. I fell in love with the rugby program as well as the school itself. The campus and the people around made me feel like I was home."
The fifth student-athlete to join the women's rugby class of 2023 is Samantha McGann. She is from New York and a member of the New York Rugby Club. The Pioneers welcome this triple threat who can play scrum-half, fly-half and fullback.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "When I came for a campus tour last summer, I immediately fell in love with the school when I saw it offered everything I was looking for. A few months later, when I had my overnight, it only solidified my desire to attend Sacred Heart and be a part of the Pioneer family. Looking forward to the fall and to start on this next journey in my life!"
The sixth signee to join the women's rugby squad is Lydia Grist-Manrique. She is a resident of Northborough, MA and played as a lock at Algonquin High School.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "I choose SHU rugby because it has a competitive, expanding and above all friendly rugby program, and makes sure that all student athletes get all the academic help they need. When I visited and spent a day with the team, I was able to see first-hand the support they gave to each other and, even though they didn't know me, they made feel as if I was part of the team. In addition, at SHU there are many pathways to becoming a successful student-athlete, and this really allowed me to believe that I could become a D1 athlete and be successful in my studies. The day that I spent with players and coaches led me to take the decision that I wanted to be part of the family, playing the sport that we all love."
The final recruit to join the women's rugby class of 2023 is Samantha Carroll. She comes to SHU from Sudbury, Mass. where she played as an eighth man and lock at Lincoln Sudbury High School.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "If you were to have told me 4 years ago at the start of my freshman year that I would be playing rugby, never mind division 1 rugby in college, I would have laughed in your face. Through my four years of playing, rugby has taught me so many lessons on and off the field. If it wasn't for my best friend I would have never been introduced to the sport that honestly changed my life. I am still in shock that I will be playing division 1 rugby next year, and against and even with some of my former teammates. I can't wait to see what the next 4 years have in store at a program like Sacred Heart."
The one lone walk on for the team is Gentiana Ismaili who is from New Fairfield, CT and previously was involved in cross country in high school.
Why she chose Sacred Heart: "I want to try something new and step out of my comfort zone."