Sunshine Coast Lightning CEO Danielle Smith was honoured at last week’s QSport Awards named Sports Administrator of the Year for 2021.
The award recognises the achievements of Queensland’s leading CEOs and administrators each year.
The Club CEO and Melbourne Storm Board Director has been a strong advocate for sport in Queensland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith said she was humbled by the recognition and is proud of the evolution and success of the club and the Suncorp Super Netball league since its inception in 2017.
“It’s a real honour and privilege to be recognised as the Sports Administrator of the Year at the QSport Awards, especially given the calibre of my fellow finalists who are all deserving,” Smith said.
“The past two years have been challenging in this industry but as Queenslanders, we have been able to innovate and band together to ensure the delivery of not only the Super Netball but NRL, AFL and other elite competitions.
“This award is a reflection of our amazing people at Lightning who regularly go above and beyond and bring passion to everything they do, as well the incredible community of supporters that we have cultivated since the Club’s inception.
“I would like to highlight the support of the Board and all our athletes and staff – our people are what really make this Club unique and enable me to lead such an incredible organisation.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the collaboration and hard work of the Suncorp Super Netball League and Club CEOs – who have worked tirelessly in recent years especially – to ensure we could safely complete two consecutive 60 game seasons plus finals.”
Storm Group Chairman Matt Tripp praised Danielle and her contribution to Lightning since the Club’s inception and sport more broadly in the country.
“Danielle has proven to be a wonderful sports executive and this award is recognition of her many years of hard work,” Tripp said.
“She has built and resided over the most successful Netball franchise in the country and thoroughly deserves her place at the top of the tree when it comes to sporting CEO’s in Queensland.”
Smith was one of the key stakeholders working to secure the Suncorp Super Netball relocation to Queensland in both 2020 and 2021, with Lightning collaborating with Queensland Firebirds and Netball Queensland to play a central role in the successful delivery of the competition.
In addition to the complexities of running a highly successful sporting organisation during two COVID-19 interrupted seasons, Smith was also focused on ensuring positive outcomes for players, clubs and the SSN league during negotiations with Netball Australia for 2022 and beyond.
Smith was influential in negotiations for the new SSN team licence agreement and collective players agreement, as the league moves into a new era in 2022.
Lightning recently announced that NRL Club Melbourne Storm will become the sole owner of the Club moving forward, with former co-owner USC transitioning to Foundation Principal Partner.
This ownership change signals an exciting new chapter for the Club, with the full dedication of the Storm Group set to elevate Lightning to greater heights in 2022 and beyond under Smith’s leadership.
The QSport Awards are held annually to celebrate the top performers in the sporting industry across the state, spanning professional and community sport. Sport Star of the Year was jointly awarded to Ash Barty and Emma McKeon, whilst the Australian Women’s Olympic 4×100 Freestyle team took out the Team of the Year award.
The Sport Administrator of the Year Award was proudly sponsored by Gallagher.