Capital Area Lady Gladiators send 11 to MWFL All-Decade Team

With the MWFL celebrating its status as the only sporting league in Canada to have operated for a decade, the league commemorated the magical milestone by naming its All-Decade Team. Based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, the Capital Area Lady Gladiators led the way with 11 players named to the All-Decade Team.

One of the most dominant franchises since the inception of the league, the team also features the most decorated player to grace the gridiron; Alex Black. The co-holder of a league-record seven MWFL All-Star nods (tied with Lisa Harlow of the Saint John Storm), Black is a franchise player.

The only player in league history to have been named an All-Star seven consecutive times (from 2006 to 2012), Black also added some hardware. As a rookie in 2006, she was named the Most Outstanding Player on Offense. More impressive was the fact that she was only a teenager at the time. She would follow it up with the league’s Most Outstanding Player Award in 2008.

Two of Black’s teammates on the Lady Gladiators were not only named to the All-Decade Team but played with her on the Canadian National Women’s Team that grabbed silver at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds in Finland; Kristin (Shot) Chatterton and Robyn Neill. While Chatterton and Neill play on the opposite sides of the ball, their contributions to the franchise were essential in competing in the 2012 SupHer Bowl.

Of note, Chatterton is the only Gladiators player named to the All-Decade Team that also competed with the Moncton Vipers. A three time MWFL All-Star selection from 2009 to 2011 (all with the Vipers), she joined Capital Area in 2012. By season’s end, she had earned her fourth straight All-Star nod, complemented by the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.

Like Black, Neill started competing in the league during her teens. Bringing a remarkable presence, Neill is the heartbeat of the offensive line. Towering at six feet, she is one of the tallest competitors in the league. Having been named to the MWFL All-Star team four times (2006 through 2009), the dedicated Neill spends her time in the trenches ensuring the offense can operate efficiently. One of the unsung heroes on the team, she is also an outstanding leader.

Another offensive lineman who helped pave the way for Neill was Courtney Hallett. Named the MWFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2005, she was one of the best blockers the league ever saw. With All-Star nods in 2005, 2006 and 2008, she is also one of three Lady Gladiators that were on both the All-Decade Team and the first All-Star team in 2005.

Joining her are Julia Coleman and Michelle Harrison. Coleman was recognized for her offensive contributions in 2005, but in the years that followed; her reputation grew for her ability to patrol the defensive backfield. Named the Most Outstanding Defensive Back in 2007, she would earn Defensive All-Star nods in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

She would follow it up by becoming the first of two consecutive Capital Area players to earn the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. Quite possibly the greatest award in her career, she earned the achievement in 2011.

A former winner of the league’s Unsung Hero Award, Michelle Harrison was another anchor for the squad’s defensive unit. Following her All-Star recognition in 2005, the honour was bestowed upon her again in 2007 and 2008.

Rounding out the group included four more selections; Natasha Canning, Grace Hallihan, Edna Jewett and Connie Timmons. Between them, they possess a combined nine MWFL All-Star selections, four on defense and five on defense.

Michelle Coleman, a former competitor with the Gladiators and MWFL All-Star selection in 2009 was named to the All-Decade Team for her volunteer efforts. In addition, Lady Gladiators competitor (and 2013 Team Canada mentor coach) Cheryl O’Leary was also recognized for her work as a volunteer. Still competing for the squad, she has also worked in an executive capacity while also contributing as a coach, respectively.

As the squad looks towards finishing the MWFL’s milestone tenth anniversary season as champions, the 11 fearless fighting females named to the All-Decade Team are testament to the talent the franchise has produced. With selections such as Black, Chatterton, Hamilton, Jewett and Neill still competing, there is no question that they will be mentors and role models for the next generation of female football heroes that shall don the red and gold of Capital Area.

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