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2022 Kathy Flores Heart of the WPL Award

The Women’s Premier League, in partnership with the U.S. Women’s Rugby Foundation Kathy Flores Memorial Fund, presented the first annual Kathy Flores Heart of the WPL Award at the 2022 WPL Championships. The award honors legendary coach Kathy Flores, one of the founders of the WPL and long-time player and coach for the Berkeley All Blues.

The award nominees were selected based on the following criteria:

  • A passionate advocate for women’s rugby and a lifelong student of the game

  • An educator and mentor who builds strong, sustainable relationships on and off the field

  • Someone who works to elevate the women’s game and best represents the ideals of the Women’s Premier League.

2022 Recipient:

Lisa Jackson Atlanta Harlequins Rugby Club Age 37

  • USA U23 Forward Coach

  • USA ID Camp Coach

  • USA U23 Regional South Harlequins Forward Coach

  • USA Rugby South All-star Coach

  • Rhino Rugby Coach

  • Raleigh Rugby Club Men/ Women & Youth Forward Coach

  • North Carolina State University Men's rugby Coach

  • ROOTS Rugby Coach

  • USA Rugby Level 200 (World Rugby 100) Certified

  • Scrum Strong Coaching Accreditation

  • Eagle Eye Scout

  • Zone Representative East | USA Rugby

  • Raleigh Rugby Football Club: Event & Sponsor Director, Board of Directors, 2016-2020

As shared by Kittery Wagner Ruiz, WPL Co-Commissioner:

The 2022 winner, Lisa Jackson has been an unwavering advocate of women's rugby. She has the respect and affection of the entire women’s rugby community for her fierce commitment to building relationships within and across communities. Lisa exemplifies the best of qualities of Kathy Flores and the WPL, her passion for the game - her commitment, care, compassion and generous nature are standards for all.

2022 Nominees:

Kristin Aliberto - New York Rugby Club Jeanna Beard - Colorado Gray Wolves Olivia Benzan - Daniel - Beantown RFC Alicia Gillberg - Twin City Amazons Evan Hoese - Berkeley All Blues Kathryn Johnson - Twin City Amazons Samantha Luther - Colorado Gray Wolves

As shared by Kittery Wagner Ruiz, WPL Co-Commissioner:

The 2022 nominees represent the very best of the WPL community. In addition to working tirelessly to grow women's rugby at every level, the nominees have demonstrated a commitment to growing and honing their own physical, intellectual and emotional skills. They lead by example and in doing so encourage others to raise their game.

Kristin Aliberto

New York Rugby Club

Age: 38

  • Philadelphia RFC Coach

  • Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union Developmental Program Coach

  • WPL Player Development Board

  • Rugby for All Contributor

  • La Salle Women's Rugby Coach (former)

  • MARFU U23 All Star Program Assistant Coach (former)

  • Philadelphia RFC Player (former)

  • MARFU Senior All Star Program Player (former)

  • USA WNT Pool

  • EPRU Board Member

  • MARFU Board Member

Jeanna Beard

Colorado Gray Wolves

Age: 36

  • WPL Liaison for COGW, 2020-present

  • WPL COVID Committee, 2020-present

  • Colorado Rush, IGR Men's Club Head Coach 2019-present

  • Rocky Mountain Rugby Women's and Men's Selects Coaching Staff, 2021-present

  • All Colorado High School Girls' Selects Coaching Staff, 2018-2020

  • USA Senior Club Council Governance Committee, 2021-present

  • Rocky Mountain Rugby VP of Operations, 2022-present

  • Rocky Mountain Rugby VP of Communications, 2019-2021

  • Rocky Mountain Rugby Women's Director of Rugby & D1 Women's Rep, 2017-2021

  • Glendale Raptors/Merlins Rugby Women's Recruitment Chair, 2016-2020

  • Glendale Raptors/Merlins Rugby Women's President, 2014-2016

  • Washington Women's RFC (DC Furies) VP of Recruitment, 2010-2013

  • Member of the Inaugural Women's National Rugby League Squad and Leadership Committee Member, 2021-2022

Olivia Benzan-Daniel

Beantown Rugby Club

Age: 30

  • St. Mary's HS Girls' Rugby Coach

  • Brandeis University Women's Rugby Coach

  • New England Free Jacks Community Coach

  • Beantown RFC - President

  • CRAA (College Rugby Association of America) Women President

  • ACRA (American College Rugby Association) Administrator

  • Rugby Northeast Vice Commissioner (women's college D2)

  • Northeast D1 Commissioner (women's college D1)

  • Women's D1 College Council Representative

  • USAR Audit & Risk Committee College Representative

  • World Rugby Coach Educator

  • L1 Certified Referee

  • Volunteer Coach at various youth clinics

Alicia Gillberg

Twin Cities Amazons

Age: 34

  • Director/Co-Commissioner of WPL, 2016-present

  • Manager of all WPL operational functions

  • Active in WPL leadership, 2012-present

  • Twin Cities Amazons Match Secretary, in Amazon leadership since 2011

  • Twin Cities Amazons Player

  • MN U23 Assistant Coach, 2018-present

  • University of Minnesota Women's Rugby Assistant Coach, 2014-2019

  • US WNT World Cup Player Pool Top 100, 2014

Evan Hoese

Berkeley All Blues

Age: 33

  • Harvard RFC Captain

  • D2 Collegiate National Championships MVP

  • NERFU's U23 Team Captain

  • Beantown's RFC Captain, 2013

  • US WNT World Cup Player Pool, 2014

  • Berkeley All Blues D2 Team Coach, 2017-2020

  • Berkeley All Blues Captain

  • NCRFU Exec Committee Member, 2017-present

  • USAR Competition's Committee Chair and Women's Division Representative

  • US WNT Tour, 2018

Kathryn Johnson

Twin Cities Amazons

Age: 30

  • USA U19 Team (at age 14)

  • 7’s World Cup Team, 2013

  • Olympic Team, 2016

  • World Cup Team (15’s), 2021

  • Fought and won for a bonus structure for USA women’s 7s

  • USA 15s Player Rep

  • WPL Development Board Founder

  • Coached K-12 youth rugby

  • Organized donations for youth rugby balls for gym classes

Sam Luther

Colorado Gray Wolves

Age: 31

  • University of Rhode Island Captain

  • Beantown Rugby Club Captain (second place finish in 2017 D1 Nationals)

  • Glendale RFC, 2018 and 2019

  • Glendale RFC Player Board Member (restructured program into the Colorado Gray Wolves)

  • International Athlete Representative for USAR's Bankruptcy Process (advocate to ensure that the women's program was included equitably throughout USAR's restructure)

  • WPL Board Member

  • XV Foundation Board Member

  • World Cup Player Pool, 2017 and 2021

  • WPL Development Board, 2020

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