(HALIFAX, N.S.) – Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2019-20 AUS women’s basketball all-stars and major award winners as selected by the conference’s eight head coaches following regular season play.
Acadia’s Haley McDonald was named to the AUS First Team All-Star squad, while teammate Jayda Veinot was named to the Second Team All-Star list. Senior forward Kelsey Rice was named the AUS Tracy MacLeod Award winner.
Fourth-year UPEI Panthers guard Jenna Mae Ellsworth of Charlottetown, P.E.I., was named the AUS most valuable player today as well as the AUS defensive player of the year.
Other AUS major award winners announced were Cape Breton’s Hailey MacLeod of Marion Bridge, N.S., who was named AUS rookie of the year; Acadia’s Kelsey Rice of Beaverbank, N.S., who is the AUS Tracy MacLeod Award Nominee; UNB’s Mikaela Dodig of Bolton, Ont., who received the student-athlete community service award; and Memorial Sea-Hawks head coach Mark English, who was named AUS coach of the year for the first time in his career.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Jenna Mae Ellsworth, UPEI Panthers
Jenna Mae Ellsworth, a five-foot-10 guard with the UPEI Panthers, is the Atlantic University Sport women’s basketball most valuable player.
A fourth-year science student from Charlottetown, P.E.I., Ellsworth led the Panthers with 20.5 point per game this season. She averaged 5.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
UPEI finished in first place in the regular season standings with a 17-3 record and have earned a bye through to the playoff semifinals.
In addition to being named conference MVP, she also earned defensive player of the year honours and a place on the AUS first team all-star squad today.
This marks the first time Ellsworth has been named an AUS first team all-star. She is a three-time AUS second team all-star and also earned rookie of the year nods and a place on the AUS all-rookie team in her inaugural season with the Panthers in 2016-17.
With 1,231 career points scored in four seasons, she now sits tied for second in UPEI school history with a year of eligibility remaining.
Ellsworth is just the third player in UPEI history to earn the conference MVP award and the first since 1998-99 when former Panthers standout Jennifer Johnston won the award. The only other UPEI player to be named AUS MVP was Paula Edwards in 1985-86.
Ellsworth now becomes the AUS nominee for the Nan Copp Award for U SPORTS player of the year.
Only two players from the AUS conference have earned the national honour: Acadia’s Paloma Anderson who took home the award in 2017-18 season, and Saint Mary’s Justine Colley who earned back-to-back Nan Copp awards in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Hailey MacLeod, Cape Breton Capers
Hailey MacLeod of the Cape Breton Capers is the AUS women’s basketball rookie of the year.
A five-foot-11 forward from Marion Bridge, N.S., MacLeod made an immediate impact with the Capers this season, starting in eight games and playing in all 20.
She boasted the second-best field goal percentage in the conference (50.8) and averaged 11.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game this season.
In a Feb. 8 game versus Saint Mary’s, MacLeod posted a career-high 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Along with being honoured as the conference’s top rookie, she also earned a place on the AUS all-rookie team.
She is the fifth player from the Capers to earn the honour as the conference’s top rookie. Former Cape Breton winners include Alison Keough (2013-14), Colleen Keane (2012-13), Amanda Fisher (1998-99) and Janice Moseychuck (1994-95).
MacLeod will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Kathy Shields Award for U SPORTS rookie of the year.
Alison Keough is only player from the Capers to ever win the national rookie of the year award.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jenna Mae Ellsworth, UPEI Panthers
Jenna Mae Ellsworth of the UPEI Panthers women’s basketball team is the 2019-20 AUS defensive player of the year in addition to earning the conference’s top honour as AUS MVP.
The fourth-year guard from Charlottetown, P.E.I. led the Panthers with 2.1 steals per game. She also averaged 3.8 defensive rebounds per game.
UPEI boasted the most effective defence in the conference this season, limiting their opponents to an AUS-best 61.9 points per game.
This marks the third consecutive year a player from the Panthers has been named AUS defensive player of the year. Teammate Carolina Del Santo earned the honour the past two seasons.
Ellsworth will now become the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS defensive player of the year award.
Former Saint Mary’s Huskies standout Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse earned the national honour in 2015-16. She is the only AUS player to ever be honoured with the U SPORTS award.
TRACY MACLEOD AWARD NOMINEE: Kelsey Rice, Acadia Axewomen
Kelsey Rice of the Acadia Axewomen is the 2019-20 nominee for the U SPORTS Tracy MacLeod Award.
This award rewards a women’s basketball player who demonstrates determination, perseverance and unwavering spirit to continue playing the game of basketball.
A fifth-year forward from Beaverbank, N.S., Rice has displayed resilience and passion for the game throughout a five-year AUS career plagued with injuries.
Throughout her first four seasons, she suffered multiple concussions which sidelined her several times. Last season, after missing 12 games in the second half following a concussion, she was medically cleared to return to play in the final regular season game.
At the AUS championship, she played in all three games, helping the Axewomen to their second straight conference title.
Unfortunately, during Acadia’s final game of the U SPORTS championship last season, Rice suffered an ACL tear which she had to undergo surgery to repair in May 2019.
This season, she spent months rehabbing the injury, determined to return to play. She was medically cleared in February and played in Acadia’s final three regular season games.
“Kelsey has shown an extraordinary amount of resilience and a pure love for the game of basketball,” said Acadia head coach Len Harvey. “Kelsey was an AUS all-rookie team member in her first year, and though much of her career potential has been derailed due to her concussions and her ACL injury, she remains as steadfast as ever to return to play the game she loves during her final year of university.”
“Kelsey’s toughness and desire to return to play are inspiring,” said Harvey. “Through it all, she has kept her wonderful, positive attitude and has been relentless in her pursuit of getting back on the court.”
Rice’s win marks the second consecutive year a player from the Axewomen has earned this honour. Lanae Adams won the AUS award for Acadia last season and went on to earn the national honour.
Rice now becomes the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Tracy MacLeod Award. Prior to Adams’ win last season, the only other AUS players to take home the national honour have been Memorial’s Brittany Dalton (2010-11) and Dalhousie’s Janet Wells (1999-00).
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Mikaela Dodig, UNB Reds
Fourth-year UNB guard Mikaela Dodig is the 2019-20 recipient of the AUS student-athlete community service award and the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Sylvia Sweeney award.
A five-foot-six guard from Bolton, Ont., Dodig has achieved success on the basketball court and in the classroom, while also being heavily involved in the community.
She started in all 20 games for the Reds this season, averaging 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game this season.
Following this season, she now sits second in UNB history with 113 career three-point field goals made.
She was named an AUS second team all-star today for the second consecutive season. She was also named to the AUS all-rookie team in her inaugural season with UNB in 2016-17.
Dodig holds a 4.1 GPA and has maintained academic all-Canadian status since her arrival at UNB.
Her extensive volunteer efforts include founding and co-chairing the first student-led Women in Sport conference to be held at UNB. The conference, which aims to empower, educate and support girls and women as participants and leaders in sport, is set for April 4, 2020.
She serves as vice president of the athlete’s council on campus and initiated the She is Active program with the Reds—a day where young girls join Reds varsity student-athletes to play various sports.
She is a member of SAMHI (Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative) on campus and she is a volunteer at the Fredericton Community Kitchen.
Dodig has also served as a volunteer coach for multiple teams, including the U17 provincial team and the Jr. Reds U13 team.
She is the fourth player from the Reds to take home this honour and the first since 2011-12 when Melissa Foster won the award. Other winners from UNB include Amanda Sharpe (2010-11) and Emily Murphy (2005-06)
Dodig now becomes the AUS nominee for the U SPORTS Sylvia Sweeney Award.
AUS student-athletes have taken home the national honour in three of the past four seasons. UPEI’s Kiera Rigby won the award in 2017-18, Acadia’s Katie Ross took home the honours in 2016-17 and Dalhousie’s Ainsley MacIntyre won in 2015-16.
DR. CAROLYN SAVOY AWARD (AUS COACH OF THE YEAR): Mark English, Memorial Sea-Hawks
Memorial Sea-Hawks head coach Mark English has been chosen by his peers as the recipient of the Dr. Carolyn Savoy Memorial Award for AUS coach of the year for the first time in his career.
In his fifth season at the help of the program, Coach English led the Sea-Hawks to a 13-7 regular season record and a third-place finish in the AUS standings.
The Memorial squad averaged 75.7 points per game this season—good for second best in the conference.
Last season, the Sea-Hawks finished as runners up at the AUS championship after entering the playoffs as a No. 5 seed and upsetting the fourth-seeded UNB Reds in the quarterfinals and No. 1-seeded Cape Breton Capers in the semifinals.
English now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the U SPORTS coach of the year award.
Saint Mary’s head coach Scott Munro is the most recent AUS coach to win the national award. He took home the honour in 2012-13.
FIRST AND SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAM
The Atlantic University Sport first and second team all-stars were also announced today, along with this year’s all-rookie team.
First Team All-Stars
Jenna Mae Ellsworth, UPEI (4th year – Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
Haille Nickerson, Memorial (5th year – Grimsby, Ont.)
Haley McDonald, Acadia (4th year – Port Williams, N.S.)
Reese Baxendale, UPEI (3rd year – Sussex, N.B.)
MacKenzee Ryan, Cape Breton (3rd year – Glace Bay, N.S.)
Second Team All-Stars
Jayda Veinot, Acadia (2nd year – Port Williams, N.S.)
Mikaela Dodig, UNB (4th year – Bolton, Ont.)
Alaina McMillan, Saint Mary’s (2nd year – Brantford, Ont.)
Alana Short, Memorial (2nd year – Barrie, Ont.)
Monique Calliste – Cape Breton (4th year – Toronto, Ont.)
Hailey MacLeod, Cape Breton (Marion Bridge, N.S.)
Aliyah Fraser, StFX (New Glasgow, N.S.)
Lucina Beaumont, Saint Mary’s (Fredericton, N.B.)
Chloe Wilson, Dalhousie (Dartmouth, N.S.)
Lauren Rainford, UPEI (Toronto, Ont.)
Eric Cederberg is the Director of Communications for Acadia Athletics