2016 Annual Academy Awards Night

The 24th Northern Daily Leader/Northern Inland Academy of Sport Annual Academy Awards was held at the Armidale City Bowling Club on Saturday 23rd July 2016.  It was a very successful night as this gave NIAS athletes, coaches and managers an opportunity to share their sporting achievements throughout the program both on and off the field.  With a special thanks to the Northern Daily Leader the following athletes were awarded these awards.


The NIAS Chairman’s award recognises an athlete in the Academy who has displayed outstanding sportsmanship on and off the field.  This individual may encourage or support others in the Academy and will often show leadership in their given sport.  This year Charlotte Raleigh displayed these attributes with Netball both and off the field.


The NIAS Volunteer of the year award recognises a member of the NIAS community who has provided outstanding service and contribution to the Academy throughout the past year, but it may also recognise someone who has been volunteering for some time.  This year Geoff Newling from the Northern Daily Leader was the winner of this award, for his tideless efforts volunteering his time to the NIAS community.


The Sarah Heagney Award is in memory of a young woman, an Academy graduate who then stepped into the role of Trainee Coach and Assistant Coach for the Academy Triathlon program.  Unfortunately, she was tragically killed in 2010.  This scholarship is funded by Sarah’s family and is in recognition of a NIAS Graduate that had continued to be involved in the Academy as a volunteer, Coach and Manager.  This year Kirstie Fuller was awarded this scholarship for her commitment to being the Head Netball Coach.

The Communicator of the year award was introduced to the Academy in 2012.  The award was initiated through the strong associate partnership NIAS has with the Telstra Store Tamworth.  The award recognises excellent communication an engagement via our VTeam Sportslocker system with coaching staff and the Academy over the program year.  This year Amelia Mazzei was awarded this award for her contribution to the Lonestar AWD (Athlete’s with Disabilities) program.


The 2016 Sports Awards for each sport are:


  • Most Improved:                Rhys Smith                        (Moree)
  • Most Dedicated:               Lachlan Martin                  (Inverell)
  • Coaches Award:                Marli Gobbert                   (Inverell)

Basketball Girls

  • Most Improved:                Sienna Kennedy                 (Tamworth)
  • Most Dedicated:               Josie Chick                         (Tamworth)        
  • Coaches Award:                Jessica Watt                      (Tamworth)

Basketball Boys:

  • Most Improved:                Ben Pearce                         (Tamworth)
  • Most Dedicated:               Mathew McGann              (Armidale)          
  • Coaches Award:                Brock McMahon               (Tamworth


Football Girls:

  • Most Improved:                Anna Little                          (Tamworth)
  • Most Dedicated:               Jessica James                    (Tamworth)
  • Coaches Award:                Jacinta Thornton              (Tamworth)


Football Boys:

  • Most Improved:                Joshua Tumbridge            (Tamworth)
  • Most Dedicated:               Maxemile Model              (Armidale)
  • Coaches Award:                Lachlan Knowles               (Tamworth)



  • Most Improved:                Ethan Weir                         (Tamworth)        
  • Most Dedicated:               Thomas Gill                        (Tamworth)
  • Coaches Award:                Jock McPherson (Tamworth)


Hockey Girls:

  • Most Improved:                Chloe Walker                     (Tamworth)        
  • Most Dedicated:               Tahlia Rekunow                (Armidale)
  • Coaches Award:                Tessa Pennefather           (Tamworth)


Hockey Boys:

  • Most Improved:                Sam Wright                        (Armidale)          
  • Most Dedicated:               Angus Wolfgang               (Tamworth)
  • Coaches Award:                Sterling George                 (Tamworth)



  • Most Improved:                Sophie Reid        
  • Most Dedicated:               Chloe Thompson/Eliza Perkins     (Gilgai/Gunnedah)
  • Coaches Award:                Anna Atkinson                   (Parkville)


Rugby League:

  • Most Improved:                Josh McLachlan                (Bundarra)          
  • Most Dedicated:               Aron Patterson                  (Kingston)
  • Coaches Award:                Jack McAuliff/Izaac Mitchell         (Inverell/Moore Creek)


Rugby Union:

  • Most Dedicated:               William Benham/Mitchell Watts                 (Tamworth)
  • Coaches Award:                Harry Snook                       (Gunnedah)


Rugby 7’s:

  • Most Improved:                Amy Duncan                      (Tamworth)
  • Most Dedicated:               Atalia Walton                    (Warialda)
  • Coaches Award:                Molly Kennedy                  (Warialda)


  • Most Improved:                Aaron Osmond                  (Gunnedah)
  • Most Dedicated:               Sahra Dennehy/Cooper Wilkinson              (Armidale/Gunnedah)
  • Coaches Award:                Logan Dries                        (Gunnedah)



Athletes of the year for each chosen sport are as follows:

  • AFL – Ed George (Tamworth)
  • Basketball Girls – Miah O’Sullivan (Tamworth)
  • Basketball Boys – Nathanial McGrath (Tamworth)
  • Football Girls – Jessica James (Tamworth)
  • Football Boys – Lachlan Knowles (Armidale)
  • golf – Thomas Gill (Tamworth)
  • Hockey Girls – Sarah Askey (Armidale)
  • Hockey Boys – Luke Wilson (Tamworth)
  • Netball – Charlotte Raleigh (North Star)
  • Rugby League – Sam Wentworth (Moree Creek)
  • Rugby Union – Jhett Butler (Tamworth)
  • Females Rugby 7’s – Rhiannon Byers (Pallamallawa)
  • Tennis – Gabby O’Gorman (Gunnedah)


The Northern Daily Leader Female Athlete of the Year:


Miah O’Sullivan has had an exceptional year in her chosen sport of basketball.  Miah is an enthusiastic, energetic and reliable young woman who has displayed a genuine desire and determination to improve her overall game.  Miah is an integral member of the Tamworth Thunderbolts Under 16 Women’s Team that participates in the New South Wales Country Premier League. This year Miah has once again been selected in the National Intensive Training Program conducted for identified elite athletes by New South Wales Basketball. selected in the New South Wales Country Tour Under 16 Women’s Team. Miah’s team won the gold medal at the Australian Country Cup with her performances earning Miah selection in the Australian Country Under 16 Women’s Team to represent Australia on a tour of New Zealand which was an outstanding personal achievement. Miah’s year has culminated in her recent selection in the New South Wales Country Under 16 Women’s Basketball Team who will compete at the Australian Championships in Victoria.


The Northern Daily Leader Male Athlete of the Year:

BASKETBALL BOYS – Nathanial McGrath

Nathaniel McGrath has had an outstanding year in his chosen sport of basketball.  Nathaniel is an important member of the Tamworth Thunderbolts Under 16 Men’s Team that participates in the New South Wales Country Premier League. Nathaniel is an identified elite athlete who takes part in the National Intensive Training Program conducted by New South Wales Basketball. He gained selection in the New South Wales Country Tour Under 16 Men’s Team earlier this year in Albury and culminated with his selection in the Australian Country Under 16 Men’s Team to represent Australia on a tour of New Zealand. Nathaniel rewarded with selection in 2016 NSW Country Under 16 Men’s Basketball Team to compete at the prestigious Australian Championships in Victoria.

The 2016 Col Burt Coach of the Year Award:

  • Greg O’Toole (Basketball)
  • Jono Willis (Basketball)
  • Matt Hobson (Basketball)