Hockey: Charlton is U21 Player of the Year

Sam Charlton has been awarded the Under-21 Player of the Year at the Hockey New Zealand Annual Awards Dinner held in Auckland on Friday night.

The hard working defender, who is born and bred in Tauranga and studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology and geography at Massey University, wowed crowds at the London Olympics.

"While others doubted themselves, Sam was working harder," said head coach Mark Hager in the build-up to last year's Olympics.

"She was willing to learn to become the best, and she delivered at the Olympics."

Co-captain Kayla Sharland and striker Nick Wilson took out the top honours at the awards dinner.

Both were presented with the 2012 Player of the Year Award and acknowledged for their consistently exceptional performance throughout the year, especially during the London Olympics.

The Men's Under-21 Player of the Year was handed to Dunedin drag flicker Kane Russell who has worked his way into the Black Sticks over the past two years and is now regularly outclassing the opposition with his trademark drag flick.

Volunteers and administrators throughout the country were acknowledged for the contribution they make.

Ten people received Bronze Awards for giving 15-19 years of service, two people received Silver Awards for 20-24 years of service and seven people were presented with Gold Awards for over 25 years of service.

Tauranga administrators were rewarded for long service.

The Silver Award for between 20 and 24 years of service to hockey went to Lynne Whittaker, while Bronze Awards for between 15 and 19 years of service to hockey were awarded to Paul Collins and Sue Furmage.

"There are so many exceptional people in hockey that give endless hours to improving the sport and giving people the opportunity to play the game they love. These awards are about acknowledging them - they make the sport happen," says Hockey New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole.

Tauranga's Kelly Hudson and Nigel Iggo took out the 2012 Umpire of the Year award for the second year in a row and Lucy Townend and Bevan Nichol were awarded the Most Promising Umpires of the Year.

The evening also celebrated the Silver Anniversary of Hockey New Zealand, after the men's and women's game merged in 1988 to form the New Zealand Hockey Federation.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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