After a whirlwind year being selected to represent the state and now Australia in Fiji with the Country women’s hockey team, Alli McArthur has been named the 2018 Horizon Power Sports Star of the Year.
The humble 19-year-old extended thanks to those who had supported her and said she had encountered a lot of luck within the year.
“Thank you to Horizon Power for sponsoring this award and thank you to everyone who has supported me this year – I’ve been really lucky,” she said.
“I didn’t expect to go to Berri and I definitely didn’t expect to be able to go to Fiji next month.
“It’s all been very crazy for me.
“A special thanks to everyone at work who has been super supportive.
“Thank you to my parents, they’ve been taking me to Perth to compete for as long as I can remember.”
The highlight of the regional sporting calendar began with an address from Shire president Victoria Brown, who commended the Esperance District Recreation Association Sports Star committee for their hard work as well as the town’s sporting volunteers and the nominees.
“I’d like to acknowledge the hardworking committee and, importantly, ladies and gentlemen and the young people in our town who have represented the sporting fraternity for many, many years,” she said.
“This is why we’re here tonight – to celebrate not only the sporting achievements but also to recognise all of the volunteers who actually put their hands up.
“I think it’s really important to recognise these people.
We have an amazing sporting fraternity in this town and, considering how far away we are from state training opportunities, it’s incredible to see the number of people who have represented the state and the nation overseas from our town.
“It is absolutely amazing.
“Congratulations to all of the nominees, you’re all winners.”
The first award of the night was the Junior Sports Star of the Year Award, a category that proved difficult for the judges with 13 very talented finalists.
Finalist Luke Greatrex was nominated for having excelled with the Esperance Tennis Club, winning the Junior Club Championship and, at 15 years of age, becoming the youngest ever winner of the Open Title.
Frankie Kennedy was nominated for her dedication to netball, having been selected to play in Queensland and being named the team’s fairest and best after being selected at the state’s Netball Academy Cup.
Despite a number of injuries over the last six months, Zoe Maccan was recognised for having broken two records in interschool athletics in Albany and for being the first female across the line in the Goldfields Pipeline 10 kilometre event.
Swimming star Ben Murgatroyd, winner of last year’s Telstra Junior Sports Star of the Year, was nominated for winning a number of medals at the Country Championships in January with times that saw him qualify for the Australian Championships in Sydney.
Esperance Football Club’s Lachlan Newman was nominated after having played his 100th game for Esperance Football Club and winning the Colts’ fairest and best award.
After winning the fairest and best for his age group at both local and state level and being selected for the Regional Under 12 soccer team, Rydn Rae-Anothnysz was also named a finalist.
After a successful 12 months in motocross, Rhal Selway was nominated for taking out first in the 85CC pass as well as the Junior Champion Shield.
After being named Junior Champion at both the Deep Sea Angling Club and the Esperance Land Based Fishing Club for two consecutive years, Tom Tate was named a finalist for the award.
Jacob Wagenknecht was nominated for his stand out cricket season, winning man of the match in the A Grade cricket final and being selected in the WA under 17 state cricket team.
Sophie Walker was named reserve Champion Girl at the interschool athletics carnival and, at just 2.36 seconds outside the state record, Sophie came away with a bronze medal in the 400 metre Under 9s competition at the Track and Field Championship.
Cian Wicker was nominated for having won Most Improved Player for 2017/18 Ultimate Frisbee and receiving the Spirit Award with team Seagulls.
The nomination topped off a spectacular year for William Wildberger, who won runner up in the junior and opening club championships at Esperance Tennis Club and won both the under 14s singles and the doubles at the Country Championships.
Talented footballer and member of the Subiaco development squad Rhys Wood was nominated after a stellar season and being named best on ground with the Colts.
South East Runners’ Zoe Maccan was announced the winner, thanking her club for their support and for helping her get to where she is today.
“It’s so good to have such a good club,” she said.
“Thank you to Watt Lab for sponsoring me and helping me out.
“I think I’ll be focusing more on school next year but I will still race in the state championships in February.”
The event also hosted a very special guest, with former Esperance man and West Coast Eagles midfielder Brayden Ainsworth returning home to share some important advice with the local sporting community.
Ainsworth said believing in himself had made all the difference and encouraged other aspiring athletes to do the same.
“Believe in yourself,” he said.
“Your family are going to support you no matter what you do – whether it’s running, basketball, anything.
“Esperance is still going to be here in five years time, it’s not going anywhere.
“Go and live your life, try to succeed.
“If you do it, at least you know that in 40 years time you tried your best and you did what you could at the highest level you could.”
Volunteers including Esperance Netball’s Rebecca Cole, Motocross volunteer Cameron Willsher, Don Murray, Andy Maccan and David Greatrex were all recognised for their contribution in the Volunteers Service to Sport Award, having gone above and beyond in the community.
A number of local teams were also recognised for their sporting accolades throughout the year, including the Esperance Sea Dragons Swimming Team, Gibson Football Club Senior Teams, Esperance Netball Association Open Team, Esperance Sharks Volleyball Team, South East Coastal Bowling League, U11’s Soccer Country Week TDS Team and the Esperance Rifle Club Team.
Despite being a difficult category for the judges, The Team of the Year was awarded to Esperance Shark Volleyball, with a representative thanking the Department of Sporting and Recreation for their sponsorship and the other clubs nominated.
Judges were spoilt for choice in the Veteran Sports Star category, with Clay Target Shooting’s Des Neale, Esperance Football’s Corey ‘Jack’ Bennier, Motocross’ Marc Payne and Goldfields-Esperance Surf Life Saving Club’s Kathleen Donovan all nominated for the award.
Mr Bennier was nominated for having been an important member of the Esperance District Football Association, winning a number of Fairest and Best awards and coaching a number of teams.
Kathleen Donovan was nominated for her awards at the state surf life saving competition and her volunteer work with local sporting clubs.
Overall Veteren State champion Des Neale was nominated for winning the Esperance Floodwater Classic, for his work in his role as president and for his involvement in coaching members of the Club.
Marc Payne was nominated for his placings at the recent state and national Motocross competitions in Manjimup.
The award was given to Mr Neale, who has been a competitor in the Easter Shoot for 50 years.
Mr Neale acknowledged the event’s sponsors and congratulated the other finalists, said he had had a lot of fun participating in the sport and encouraging the next generation.
The final award of the night saw Brendon White, Ray Hurley, Tenique Tucker, Brad Lewis, Alli McArthur and Rene Drew compete for the title of Sports Star of the Year.
After a spectacular season winning the Esperance District Football Association ‘Hepburn Medal’, Brendon White was also recognised for having won the Kim Curnow’ Esperance Football of the Year and being selected in Landmark Regional Allstar Squad – earning him a nomination.
Esperance Rifle Club’s Ray Hurley was nominated after winning the Queens prize at the 2017 Open and the Grand Aggregate for overall Queens prize 2017.
Esperance Netball Association’s Most Valuable Player, Tenique Tucker, was nominated for her stellar performance throughout the season and for having been selected as an Esperance Netball Association Allstar whilst assisting as Junior Coach to the ‘Diamonds’ Netball Team.
Esperance District Golf Association Singles Gross winner Brad Lewis earned himself a nomination after winning the South East Tour and being the Associations Mixed 4 Ball winner.
Rene Drew also earned himself a nomination for his Rifle Shooting, winning 15 Medals at the Pinjar Range Queens five-day event and scoring the most possible scores in division F Standard.
Of course, it was Alli McArthur who took the title – just weeks before she heads to Fiji with the Australian Country women’s hockey team.
In a closing address, committee member Erica Austen thanked sponsors Horizon Power, Telstra, the Shire of Esperance, REX, Esperance Volunteer Resource Centre, Rigney and Associates, Salt Water Catering, Watt Lab, Innertube, Sportspower and Dempster Sporting for their contribution and support.
“An event like this does not happen without the support of a great team,” she said.
The committee’s AGM will take place on Wednesday, November 14.