What a fantastic celebration of secondary school sport last week at the ASB Stadium in Whangārei, where the ASB Northland Secondary School Sports Awards were held. More than 400 people turned out to acknowledge and recognise our best young school sportsmen and women across all sporting codes.
The major individual awards for the year were won by Whangārei Girls' High School's water-skier Courtney Williams (ASB Sportswoman of the Year) and Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist (Whangārei Boys' High School), who took out the ASB Sportsman of the Year for squash.
The other major award was the ASB Team of the Year which was this year won by the Whangārei Girls' High School squash team.
Williams' achievements included an open women's gold medal at the NZ water-skiing Champs and a gold medal in jump, silver in tricks and gold overall for the NZ under-17 team against Australia.
Vette-Blomquist is the NZ under-17 squash champion, amongst many championship titles, and represented NZ at the 2019 World Junior Squash Champs in Malaysia.
The Whangārei Girls' High School squash team are the 2019 New Zealand secondary school champions.
Four athletes were selected to receive NorthTec Emerging Talent Awards – these awards are given as acknowledgement to high achieving younger athletes who have been named as finalists in their respective codes.
This year the winners were Kingi Tana (Kerikeri High School) for karate; Shay Aull (Bream Bay College) for Olympic weightlifting; Ty Murray (Kerikeri High School) for polocrosse; and Sage Going (Kamo High School) for water skiing. All four are Year 9 students at their respective secondary schools and are either NZ age group champions or NZ age group representatives.
A new initiative in 2018 was again offered at this year's event – this saw all finalists offered complimentary tickets to the function through a unique sponsorship initiative that attracted many Northland businesses, community organisations and individuals to become involved.
Due to donations from over 20 local businesses, community organisations and individuals, the vast majority of finalists were on hand to be recognised for their sporting deeds throughout the last 12 months.
With many of our young sportspeople eligible to attend three, sometimes four, of the five functions held across Northland to acknowledge our best sports people, the sports awards season can be an expensive one and Sport Northland did, therefore, want as many secondary school finalists as possible to attend.
There was inevitably still the odd finalist away playing their sport, but by taking away just one of the costs, it was fantastic to see such a high attendance. A huge thank you to those organisations and individuals who contributed.
A big thanks also to ASB for their long-term sponsorship of this event – this was the 28th staging of this popular event and it was also the 28th time that ASB has supported it through naming rights sponsorship – a remarkable achievement and one that ASB and Sport Northland are extremely proud of.
School sport in Northland is grateful to Glen Hardham, Northland's immediate past regional manager, and Ngaire Angus, the new Northland regional manager and their ASB team for the ongoing support received.