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Driscoll takes the best gong | The times of Inverell

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Kaitlin Driscoll of Inverell received one of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport’s most treasured awards when the Academy hosted its annual awards night. Driscoll received the Sarah Heagney Award which was presented by Sarah’s mother Julie Heagney in memory of the former NIAS triathlete who made an outstanding contribution to the Academy as an athlete and then as an intern and assistant coach for the triathlon program. Driscoll is the head coach of the netball program and herself is a graduate of NIAS Netball, which has given back to the Academy from a coaching standpoint. The remainder of the awards night was different from her normal procedures. Turning the awards night into an online event for the first time, the Oscars featured guest speakers, program coaches, sponsors, staff, and the athletes themselves. Former NBN Sports highly respected presenter Mike Rabbitt was the MC for the night. Rabbitt has been a long-time supporter of the Academy for many years and was awarded the title of Life Member of the Academy by former NIAS President Wally Franklin. A special guest interview with Rabbitt with former NRL star Jamie Lyon saw him give aspiring young athletes a message about the effort required to level up, saying they must take advantage and ” … it all comes from that hard work and dedication and commitment, doing the extras … “While listening to the coaches of the Academy’s sports programs throughout the night and presenting the guest interview Special, Rabbitt announced the winners of the full programs (uninterrupted by COVID-19) including basketball, golf, hockey and mountain biking. A range of awards were presented to athletes including Most Dedicated, Most Improved, Coach’s Award and Athlete of the Year for each sport. Sam Morris (Tamworth) and Katie Sheppard (Moore Creek) won the basketball awards as Most Dedicated, Bridie Douglas (Quirindi) and Yasutomo for Most Improved, Tom Parsons (Werris Creek) and Miley Clarke (Quirindi) ) for the Coaching Award, and Harrison Barton (Hallsville) and Gabrielle Higgins (Tamworth) for Basketball Athletes of the Year. Golf program winners included Oliver Thomas (Hillvue) for Most Dedicated, Matt Reece (Inverell) for Most Improved, Rhys Devney (Moree) for Coaches’ Award and Ryan McKinnon (Tamworth) as Golf Athlete of the year. The winners of the women’s and men’s hockey programs were Andrew Macinas (Tamworth) and Danika Watson (Armidale) as the most dedicated, Cameron Le Surf (Armidale) and Emma Dauparus (Armidale) as the most improved, Jayden Scott (Tamworth) and Chloe McWilliam (Tamworth) for the Coaches Award and Sam Griffith (Tamworth) and Chloe Scicluna (Tamworth) as Hockey Athletes of the Year. In addition to the Sarah Heagney Award, significant awards were also announced during the evening, including the Communicator of the Year Award, the President’s Award and the Coach of the Year Award. Communicator of the Year is an award given to an athlete with outstanding communication with NIAS program staff and team throughout the year and use of the Team App communication portal. Caleb Bettison from the track and field program was the award recipient for this. The President’s Award was presented to Isabella Banister of the netball program for her exceptional sportsmanship and for her involvement on and off the netball court. The Coach of the Year award went to Michael Crummy, Head Coach of the Mountain Bike Program for his exceptional commitment and dedication to the program and its athletes throughout the year. The Northern Inland Academy of Sport has started selection trials for 2022 in select sports and will continue this weekend with basketball and golf trials, with applications closing on Friday, November 5. Applications are currently open for the NIAS Basketball, Football, Golf, Netball and Lone Star Individual Fellowship programs. Applications for basketball and golf will close this Friday, November 5, as trials for these programs begin on Saturday. For more information on each of the programs or to submit an application, visit