Troy, MI — (March 12, 2023) The American Collegiate Hockey Association announced today the
2022-2023 Women's Division 2 Community Playmaker Award and Off-Ice MVP. The Community Playmaker is nominated by their team for their contributions to their school and community on a volunteer basis or in a leadership role. The Off-Ice MVP is a player that is considered a team's "unsung hero" for all do their programs.
2022/2023 Community Playmaker Award Winner- Mary Rusnock, Villanova University
Rusnock currently serves as the Wellness Director for the Villanova Women's Hockey program, keeping the team mentally and physically safe and healthy. Mary is a junior at the prestigious M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova, where her research undertakings have gone a long way to help the community. She is a first responder on the team and helps facilitate first responder training with the Villanova club sports office. Rusnock's athletic performance is not overshadowed by this, as she is a top performer on our team with 8 points so far this season and 14 points in her career, which was delayed because of Covid.
Mary is being praised consistently for her speed and hustle when it comes to doing whatever it takes to help the team succeed. She was recently put on our powerplay/penalty kill unit, which she has handled amazingly and helped us secure many of our wins. She has worked alongside the university to develop methods for injury prevention and support athletes in their recovery from various injuries. During the Fall break of 2022, the Forward traveled to the Dominican Republic with other students and faculty to provide healthcare to Haitian immigrants working in rural sugarcane communities through a mobile clinic. She worked tirelessly to prepare for this experience and developed several teaching projects for the communities. Mary involved the team in helping her fundraise financially and through health-supply donations (toothbrushes, soap, etc.) to support the communities. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in pediatric nursing on a cardiac intensive care unit and continue impacting the community around her.
2022/2023 Off-Ice MVP Winner- Sara Barshap, Villanova University
Sara joined the team with a limited hockey background but a fierce passion for the sport and a business-like approach to the team operations that has completely revolutionized the program. She currently serves as Villanova's President and Captain. As a student-run organization, Barshap is responsible for all scheduling, compliance, and organizational aspects and runs the team's social media/website.
A month after joining the team, Sara took over the team's social media outlets and has used graphic design skills to redo our platforms, increase our following by over 500 followers, and improved engagement by over 150%. She has created everything from gameday, scoring, and ranking graphics and established the longrunning #wicewednesday posts, which feature a new team member weekly. Several teams in the ACHA have recruited her graphic design talents, and she even designed the banners and signage for the ACHA Men's DI Nationals. After revamping the social platforms, the Scotch Plains, NJ native took on her biggest task: building us a completely new website over the first few weeks of her second semester freshman year. This website houses key features that have promoted and supported our team, such as a recruitment portal, game schedule, and donation portal. The recruitment portal has been one of the defining accomplishments of Sara's tenure.
Since 2019, the roster has grown from 12 to 29 players, with new prospects reaching out daily. Barshap manages all recruitment communications via our team's email and keeps a detailed Google Drive sheet with students' pertinent information. Sara currently works in the Club Sports Office at Villanova and has campaigned and presented several rulings that have helped the team and club sports. In the Fall of 2022, she passed a $150,000 budget increase for club sports directly to the Athletic Director of Villanova, helping 31 teams access increased funding, postseason financials, and facility allocations. Fundraising is not a new undertaking for Sara, as she has fundraised over $10,000 for the team since freshman year. These efforts have been carried out in multiple ways, on a smaller scale via dine-out days and Instagram fundraisers and on a larger scale through alumni networking and team sponsorships. She never hesitates to do anything for the betterment of the team. She constantly advocates for everyone to have a place, both on and off the ice, in the hockey space.