Leadership shift

Harlow takes over MWFL helm for 2015 campaign

As the Maritime Women’s Football League enters its twelfth season in 2015, the league has established its leadership structure. Consisting of an executive of five individuals, complemented by four team representatives, it is a highly committed group determined to maintain a high standard of female football in Canada’s Atlantic region.

Heading into 2015, the MWFL shall be without two individuals that have made invaluable contributions over the years. Cheryl O’Leary, the league’s president in 2013, and a member of the mentor-coach program for the Canadian national team at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, has relocated to Barrie, Ontario.

Having also played for the Capital Area (Fredericton) Lady Gladiators, O’Leary was a mentor to many of the younger women on the squad. Although she leaves behind an empowering legacy, she is not removed from the game. O’Leary shall serve as the Vice President of Operations for the Central Canadian Women’s Football League.

Another individual whose loss shall be felt is Holly Arthur. Having served in an administrative capacity with the Halifax Xplosion, Arthur also graced the gridiron, even competing for Team Atlantic at the 2012 Canadian nationals.

Her greatest contribution to the team may have been helping to organize the Xplosion’s involvement in the 2013 Halifax Pride Parade, raising awareness of the team and the league, while supporting a worthy cause. Moving with her family to Calgary, Alberta, she has the potential to follow in the footsteps of MWFL greats such as Ferne Lavers who relocated west and continued to play in the WWCFL.

Stepping into the position of President shall be Lisa Harlow. The first player inducted into the Saint John Storm Ring of Honour, Harlow was also a member of the Canadian roster that competed at the inaugural IFAF Women’s Worlds in 2010.

Although the position comes with the interim tag, Harlow is the ideal person for the position. Having also served as the President for Football New Brunswick, she has broken many barriers in the sport for women in New Brunswick. Quite possibly the most influential player in the history of the MWFL, Harlow shall remain a key player to ensure the growth and stability of the league.

As a side note, should the interim tag be removed from the position, the Saint John Storm shall require a new team representative. For now, Harlow also holds that position. She is joined by three other remarkable women that proudly serve as representative for their teams.

Kristen Chatterton, a member of the Canadian national team that grabbed the silver at the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, has stepped up to serve as representative for the Lady Gladiators. One of the most talented competitors with the Lady Gladiators, assuming the position is testament to Chatterton’s growth as a player and as a leader. Chatterton was one of the players on the squad who was positively influenced by O’Leary’s guidance and maintains her legacy in such an important role.

As the only team based in Nova Scotia, the Halifax Xplosion can rely on Terri Smith-Fraser to provide strong leadership as its player representative. An emotional leader and tireless worker, Smith-Fraser followed in Arthur’s footsteps, helping to organize the team’s involvement in the 2014 edition of the Halifax Pride Parade.

Considering that the Xplosion had a significant rookie influence during the 2014 campaign, Smith-Fraser was a proud mother figure. Providing friendship and mentoring for many of the novice players, it is only fitting that she expands her positive influence with the role of team representative.

Another individual that is hoping to emulate such positivism is Melanie Legere. Serving as the Moncton Vipers team representative, she may hold the toughest position among the four. Taking into account that the Vipers did not compete in 2014, it left a big hole in league play. As one of the MWFL’s charter teams, the Vipers are hoping that the 2015 season restores the league’s competitive balance.

Of note, the team representatives shall be joined by an executive group that sees Larry Harlow pulling double duty. Having served as the head coach of the Saint John Storm, along with the Canadian national team at the 2010 IFAF Women’s Worlds, Harlow is a legend in MWFL circles. Serving as Director of Communications, Harlow also holds the interim position of league treasurer.

Joining Harlow on the executive is Trina Graves, the Storm’s starting quarterback in 2014. A two-time member of the Canadian national team, Graves has served on the MWFL’s executive for several seasons. Heading into 2015, Graves shall assume the role of Secretary. Able to excel on both offense and defense, Graves is not only a multi-talented competitor, but her demeanor and international experience makes her a perfect ambassador for the MWFL.

Serving as MWFL Vice-President for 2015 shall be Tasha Walsh. With a strong group of qualified members composing the MWFL’s leadership, complemented by Moncton’s return, the 2015 season is poised to be part of another shining chapter in the league’s glorious story.

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