Southern Steel’s unbeaten 2017 campaign scooped three more prizes for the mantelpiece on Friday evening at the 2017/2018 ILT Southland Sports Awards.
The Ascot Park Hotel-sponsored team, which won 21 straight games along with the ANZ Premiership and Super Club titles last year, picked up the Team of the Year award, with Reinga Bloxham named Coach of the Year and skipper Wendy Frew winning the Senior Sportsperson of the Year title.
Sport Southland chief executive Brendon McDermott said his organisation was honoured to once again celebrate, on behalf of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust, a superb 12 months of achievement by Southlanders.
“While netball will deservedly dominate the headlines, they had some stiff competition across all three awards categories that they won this year,” McDermott said.
“To win the inaugural ANZ Premiership title and go unbeaten for the season was a great achievement, but I think what really resonated for a lot of Southlanders was the courage and grace under pressure the players and management showed following the van crash weeks out from the finals.”
The Steel managed to recover from a van accident which saw several players, including Frew and star shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, sustain significant injuries.
The team went on to maintain their unbeaten run just a couple of days later against the Tactix in Christchurch after calling up several players from their development side.
They were back to full strength for the final, with Frew nabbing an intercept in the opening play to set the tone for a dominant display against the Pulse and give rookie coach Bloxham her first title at that level.
Track cyclist Tom Sexton was named the Junior Sportsperson of the Year after a breakout season in the senior ranks which included wins at World Cup level with the New Zealand pursuit team and claiming Cycling NZ’s Emerging Talent Award.
Disc Golf South president Martin Conway won the Administrator of the Year title having been instrumental in the development of an 18-hole disc golf course in Invercargill’s Queens Park. Despite only opening late last year, the Queens Park course has already hosted its first national-level tournament and Disc Golf South is the sport’s fastest growing club in New Zealand.
Southland’s top ranked cricket umpire for the past five seasons, Peter Pasco took out the Official of the Year category after completing his second full season on the national reserve panel, standing in several national tournaments and two Hawke Cup matches.
The Masters Achievement of the Year went to golfer Robyn Boniface following a standout win at the Australian women’s senior amateur matchplay championship in October.
The People’s Choice award went to axeman Bobby Dowling, who claimed the world 375mm single sawing title at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney earlier this year.
Three Sport Southland Services to Sport awards were also presented on the night with Ian Folster (cricket), Michelle Anderson (synchronised swimming) and Svend Pedersen (orienteering) recognised for significant contributions to their chosen sports.
Folster has been involved in Southland cricket administration since 1966, including five years as chairman and now president. He has also represented Southland at Otago board level, played in 10 Golden Oldies tournaments around the world and was a trustee on the Southland Amateur Sports Trust from 1970-2012, including being chairman for much of that time.
Anderson co-founded Phoenix Synchro in 2002 and has been chairperson for the past 15 years. Despite not having a background in the sport she has now officiated right up to international level and under her leadership 10 Southland swimmers have gone on to represent New Zealand.
Pedersen is a legend of New Zealand orienteering, having been recognised nationally and respected locally for the time and effort he has put into virtually every role required in running the sport.
ILT Southland Sports Awards 2017/2018 winners:
- ILT Senior Sportsperson of the Year: Wendy Frew (netball)
- Vodafone Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Tom Sexton (cycling)
- Southland Kia Team of the Year: Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel (netball)
- Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year: Reinga Bloxham (netball)
- BDO Administrator of the Year: Martin Conway (disc golf)
- Creation Signs Official of the Year: Peter Pasco (cricket)
- NZME Masters Achievement of the Year: Robyn Boniface (golf)
- The Southland Times People’s Choice Award: Bobby Dowling (woodchopping)
- Sport Southland Services to Sport: Michelle Anderson (synchronised swimming), Ian Folster (cricket), Svend Pedersen (orienteering)