“Maryanne was the dominant tight head prop during her time as an Eagle. She was a tough and fearless competitor whose play exemplified the spirit of the game. Her tenacity in the front row and around the pitch showed other nations that the USA was not just a team of fast, athletic backs; the forwards also had skill and a blue-collar mentality that should not be overlooked. Over the years, Maryanne made an effort to work with the new or prospective women’s national team front row players, teaching the mental and physical skills and techniques critical to success on the international level. She has continued to be a supporter of rugby in the United States, including for girls and women, ever since,” said former teammate and Eagle legend, Tam Breckenridge.
Maryanne “MA” Sorensen attended the College of William and Mary from 1974 to 1978, where she was a member of the inaugural women’s rugby team. MA would continue her career at the club level for the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Football Club from 1978 to 2000. She served as team captain from 1990 to 1999 and led the team to the USA Rugby National Championships in 1981, 1997 and 1998 in both 7s and 15s. During her tenure, her play earned her numerous MVP honors, leading to a subsequent Philadelphia Rugby Club Hall of Fame nod in 2012. She also appeared on the pitch for the Maulie Maguires during the 1980s. Sorenson was named to the Eastern Rugby Union Select Side and the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union Select-Side on numerous occasions.
Most notably, MA was named to the USA Eagle 15s in 1991. She would play 9 seasons at prop, tallying 20 total caps and play in 25 games. She appeared in three Rugby World Cups with the Eagles in 1991 as a member of the Rugby World Cup Championship team, 1994 and 1998.
“She was a teammate others gravitated towards in the off-field tour moments and gained confidence from in the on-field play. No matter the pressure, Maryanne was the solid and reliable rock in the front row and around the pitch. Her play during those years, and before, put her at the top of the heap in terms of world-class tight head props. In fact, I played against many of the international tight heads at the time and Maryanne bested them all. She was the perfect storm on the field: disciplined and dynamic, analytical, and spontaneous; she played with joy and ferocity. I benefitted from the lessons I learned from MA as a player, and I’ve carried them into coaching. I know that many more people than just me have benefitted in the same ways,” said former USA Eagle teammate, Liz Kirk.
Sorensen’s greatness on the pitch would translate seamlessly to the sideline in a coaching capacity. She coached the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Football Club from 2002 to 2007, coaching the team to multiple playoff appearances. During this time, she also served as assistant coach for the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union Select-Side. Additionally, she served stints as a scrum/forwards coach for the USA Eagles 15s and was involved in the USA Women’s National Team camps and assemblies.
Off the pitch, Maryanne has achieved similar excellence in life. She attended medical school and completed her residency and fellowship program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia specializing in anesthesia. She has continued her dedicated work in this field for almost four decades, including lifesaving work with the sickest COVID patients over the course of the past two years. In recognition of her accomplishments both on and off the pitch, the Washington Athletic Club has named the award for the top women’s college rugby player the Maryanne Sorensen Collegiate Player of the Year.