Sunshine Coast Lightning has revealed its esteemed Most Valuable Player Award for 2023 among a number of Club achievements at its annual A Night With Lightning gala event.

Foundation player and Captain, Steph Wood was crowned the top award of the night, finishing on a total of 50 votes from the season and claiming Most Valuable Player. Wood polled in 12 of a possible 14 rounds and accumulated 60% of total available votes.

Fellow Diamonds teammate Cara Koenen came in as runners up, finishing on 35 votes, followed by Mahalia Cassidy (29 votes) and Karla Pretorius (23 votes) who rounded out the top four.

Lightning Head Coach Belinda Reynolds said she was thrilled Steph received the well-deserved recognition for her outstanding season.

“I am really pleased Steph has been rewarded for her fantastic 2023 season. Time and time again, she has stepped up in critical moments this season, however it has been her consistency in performance each week that demonstrates she is world-class,” she said.

“Her ability to take the game on when it counts, as well as her skill and smarts have been integral to the team’s improvements this year. It’s not only Steph’s individual performances which have influenced this, but also the leadership she has shown in continually driving the standards within our group.

“I am very proud of Steph and can’t wait to watch her carry on her great form into the World Cup.”

The hotly contested Players’ Player of the Year Award and Members’ Player of the Year Awards were also picked up by the Captain, with Steph Wood taking home three trophies for the night.

Awarded to the player who best demonstrates the true spirit of Sunshine Coast Lightning, the Team Spirit Award was presented to South African international, Karla Pretorius, who returned to the Club this year after having her first child, Kara.

Lightning Assistant Coach Jenny Brazel said Karla was an inspiration for everyone in the team.

“Karla personifies all that is the spirit of Sunshine Coast Lightning — her enduring contribution, honest communication, willingness and her work ethic,” she said.

“She lives and breathes the values of the Club and has been an inspiration to her teammates and staff this year. She has shown great strength and determination in critical moments, and is still eager to learn and grow as a player.

“Karla has sacrificed so much this year, but is always humble and grateful for her opportunities.”

Other awards included the Community Champion, which was presented to Tara Hinchliffe to recognise her outstanding contribution to the Sunshine Coast and surrounding netball community.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning Club Person of the Year was awarded to Game Day & Events Manager, Jordy Albeck for her passion and contribution to the Club, and her ability to live and breathe the Club’s mantra and values.

Lightning CEO, Danielle Smith was thrilled to announce Jordy as the well-deserved winner.

“Jordy joined Lightning not long after the 2017 season, and I’ve been so proud to see her personal and professional development over that time,” she said.

“She has immense passion for our Club and goes above and beyond to deliver the best game day experience in the SSN, as well as putting on amazing events throughout the year.”

Additionally, Lightning volunteer Trish Turk was awarded Volunteer of the Year due to her enthusiasm and cheerful attitude, greeting every fan who enters the front gate with a smile.

Sunshine Coast Lightning 2023 Award Winners:

  • Most Valuable Player: Steph Wood
  • Players’ Player of the Year: Steph Wood
  • Members’ Player of the Year: Steph Wood
  • Team Spirit Award: Karla Pretorius
  • Community Champion: Tara Hinchliffe
  • Club Person of the Year: Jordy Albeck
  • Volunteer of the Year: Trish Turk

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