Sharon Kelly receives Spirit of Netball

New South Wales umpire, Sharon Kelly, was the toast of the 2014 Australian Netball Awards as the recipient of two prestigious awards.

Sharon was named Australian Umpire of the Year for the 13th consecutive season, and was also awarded the Spirit of Netball at the gala function inside the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday evening.

The Spirit of Netball award was established in 2011 and granted at the sole discretion of the Netball Australia Board, acknowledges extraordinary achievements and sporting performances. As an All Australian and International umpire for over 20 years, Sharon has officiated at five Commonwealth Games and has recorded 100 matches at both an international and ANZ Championship level.

Other members of the NSW netball community were also acknowledged during the evening, with High Performance umpire Michelle Phippard claiming the maiden Lorna McConchie Umpire Award, and Netball NSW Waratahs’ goal shooter Kristina Brice sharing the 2014 Australian Netball league Player of the Year honour with fellow NSW junior and 2014 Western Sting captain, Ashleigh Brazill.

The Lorna McConchie Umpire Award recognizes an umpire who demonstrates commitment to improvement in performance, contributed to development, promoted umpiring and embodies the Umpire Trademark behaviours.

NSW and Australian netball great, Liz Ellis, was in attendance to present Madi Robinson with the coveted Liz Ellis Diamond, becoming the first athlete to receive the prestigious award on multiple occasions following her acknowledgement in 2012.

The 28-year-old was one of the stars in the Melbourne Vixens’ ANZ Championship premiership in June and made the ANZ Championship All-Star Team for the third consecutive season in the wing attack spot.

Like she did in 2012, Robinson was also named Real Insurance Australian International Player of the Year after playing a key role in Australia’s Commonwealth Games Gold Medal campaign in Glasgow during the year. Robinson was one of only two players to take the court in all of Australia’s 13 Tests in 2014.

“The main thing that sticks out for me this year about Madi has been the consistency of her performance, she’s taken her game to a whole new level this year and she’s been able to manage any opponent she’s faced,” Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.

“This year she’s taken a big step forward, enjoyed her netball and played a major role in the success of the Australian Diamonds and Melbourne Vixens.”

Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds captain Laura Geitz was named the Australian ANZ Championship Player of the Year, which is voted on by every player and coach from the five Australian ANZ Championship sides as well as selected media representatives.

It’s the second time that Geitz has claimed the award, having taken it out in 2011, the year she led the Firebirds to their first title. The 27-year-old also joins former Adelaide Thunderbirds captain Natalie von Bertouch (2009, 2010) as a dual winner of the award.

“Laura has grown again this year in stature and ability to turn the ball over when her team needed it but also calm things down when it needed to be calmed down so it was a terrific season,” Alexander said.

Former Australian captain Pat McCarthy (nee Doherty) was inducted into the Australian Netball Hall of Fame. Doherty, first selected in the Australian team in 1952, led the national team on its maiden tour of England and first Test victory over England with a 14-11 victory in London. Despite her diminutive stature, McCarthy’s speed and ingenuity has her credited with introducing passing on the run in netball.

Geitz’s Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke claimed the inaugural Joyce Brown Coach of the Year, which recognises a coach at the high performance level who successfully exhibits actions which show dedication to the science and art of coaching.

2014 Australian Netball Award winners:
Liz Ellis Diamond: Madi Robinson
Real Insurance Australian International Player of the Year: Madi Robinson
Australian ANZ Championship Player of the Year: Laura Geitz, Queensland Firebirds
Australian Netball League Player of the Year: Ashleigh Brazill, Western Sting & Kristina Brice, Netball NSW Waratahs
AIS ANZ Championship Coach of the Year Award: Simone McKinnis, Melbourne Vixens
Joyce Brown Coach of the Year: Roselee Jencke, Queensland Firebirds
Australian ANZ Championship Coach of the Year: Simone McKinnis, Melbourne Vixens
Australian ANZ Championship Umpire of the Year: Sharon Kelly
Lorna McConchie Umpire Award: Michelle Phippard
Spirit of Netball: Sharon Kelly
Hall of Fame Inductee: Pat McCarthy