Academy awards night spotlight shines brightly

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The spotlight at Saturday’s South West Sydney Academy of Sport graduation and awards dinner was shining on more than just outstanding athletes.

Naturally it was especially bright for the winners of the two biggest awards, gun baseballer Adam Bates (athlete of the year), and para-swimmer Daniel Lill (disability athlete of the year), pictured above and at right.

Not surprisingly, both of these fine athletes picked up a stack of other awards through the evening.

But in a sign of the changing times, the spotlight was also on the people who are in the background of athletic performance, making it an even more special night for the academy and its supporters.

For the first time since the academy’s establishment a lifetime achievement award for 20 or more years of service was introduced on Saturday night.

There were not one, but two presentations: one to Peter Campbell, who has been an academy director since 2002 and chairperson since 2008.

The second was to Gerry Knights, a member of the founding working party almost 30 years ago, convenor and committee representative 1997 – 2006 and chief executive officer of the academy since 2006. Mr Knights is pictured here with Peter Campbell.

Another new award in 2023 was volunteer of the year.

There were also two recipients of this honour, AFLW head coach Ben Robinson, and volleyball squad manager Shinavia Jerochim.

Other award categories and the winners on the night were:

Sport program (coaches) awards:

AFLW: Brea Trevitt

Basketball: Jade Dabrowksi and Max Brown-Tjakuapi

BMX: Clay Jonson

Golf: Joey Eason

Hockey: Jasmine Scott-Castle and Darcy Ryder

Indigenous athlete program:  Zoey Saba

Netball athletes: Blessing Donvenekham

Netball umpires: Piper Steed

Softball: Cassandra Taylor and Parker Cameron

Triathlon: Zoe Bruce

Volleyball: Amelie Alnimer and William Chandhara

Wests Future Para Stars: Daniel Lill

Wests Future Stars: Adam Bates

Chairperson award:  

Max Brown-Tjakuapi – basketball

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