Sunshine Coast Lightning celebrated a fifth successful Suncorp Super Netball season by tonight revealing the 2021 Club award recipients at the annual “A Night With Lightning” gala event.
As recognition for another stellar season as one of the competition’s finest attacking players, Vice Captain Steph Wood received the coveted Player of the Year award.
It is the second time Wood was recognised for this award, first announced as a dual recipient with now-Captain Karla Pretorius back in 2018.
Head Coach Kylee Byrne praised Wood for another strong season, solidifying her reputation as a playmaker and true leader out on court.
“Steph is an incredibly talented attacking player but it’s also her influence on those around her that makes her so special,” Byrne said.
“Her ability to lift her teammates and demand the best out of those around her, as well as herself, is second to none and she is very deserving of this accolade tonight.”
This season the Players’ Player of the Year was awarded to Cara Koenen, demonstrating the respect she has garnered from the playing group in the past five seasons.
The shooter’s popularity extended further than just her fellow athletes, with Koenen also becoming a deserving winner of the Wise Employment Members’ Player of the Year award.
“What Cara has been able to achieve in recent seasons is immeasurable, so I am not surprised that she was voted by her peers for this prestigious award,” Byrne said.
“Fiercely determined and always with a smile, Cara is a great asset to our Club both on and off court and that favour obviously carries over into the community.”
This year’s Downer Team Spirit Award went to newcomer Kate Shimmin, who despite only being at the Club for one season has made quite an impact.
“Kate is such a quality person and we really love what she has brought to Lightning this year,” Byrne said.
“She’s supportive and encouraging to everyone around her and selflessly plays her role in the team, but she also uses her voice to challenge the status quo.
“She brings such passion to the team and you can see that at training, out on court and even her excitement and cheers from the sidelines during matches.”
Ashlee Unie may have been restricted to the sidelines due to injury this season, however, her impact was still great – awarded as this year’s Unitywater Community Champion.
“It was incredibly important to Ash that she was meaningfully contributing to the team and the Club this season and that hard work and dedication has paid off with her being named Community Champion,” Byrne said.
“She really took it upon herself to go above and beyond and to live the Lightning values – working closely with our Community Manager to bring the Confident Girls Foundation program to life.
“Ash is a highly regarded player who has a real inquisitiveness about her and that no doubt helped drive her to be out there in the community as a real custodian of our Lightning team.”
Off court, the contributions of the wider High Performance and Commercial staff are incredibly important in allowing Lightning to succeed.
This season’s Club Person of the Year was awarded to Membership and Ticketing Manager Tyler Kerr after another challenging COVID-19 impacted season.
Lightning CEO Danielle Smith said Tyler’s enthusiasm and strong rapport with the Club’s Members and fans is testament to her hard work this year and in seasons gone by.
“Tyler brings a real energy to our commercial team and is well known with our Members and fans for her excellent customer service and willingness to go above and beyond,” Smith said.
“This award is a credit to all that she has done for the Club in building our loyal supporter-base and in ensuring every Member felt valued and heard in what was another tough season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Lightning’s volunteer base was also mentioned with the Volunteer of the Year award being presented to Tanya Morcom.
Tanya is a foundation Member and volunteer, who donated her time throughout 2021 to be a part of the Club’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan working group, as well as assisting the Confident Girls Foundation program and in her usual game day role.
Smith sung Tanya’s praises as a dedicated, hard working and passionate volunteer.
“We pride ourselves on our dedicated match day workforce and this year Tanya stood out for her strong contribution to our Club,” Smith said.
“Tanya has been a friendly face on match day since 2017 and her involvement in the Club this year with the inclusion of the RAP working group and Confident Girls Foundation program has been selfless, engaging and informative.”
The gala event was held at Lightning’s venue partner The Lakehouse on Friday 3 September 2021.
2021 Sunshine Coast Lightning Awards:
Player of the Year:
Players’ Player of the Year:
WISE Employment Members’ Player of the Year:
Downer Team Spirit Award:
Unitywater Community Champion:
Club Person of the Year:
Volunteer of the Year: