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Involvement in Surf Sports at any level – be it a competitor, coach or official – requires sincere and often unrivalled commitment to stand out in the field.

As we edge closer to our NSW Awards of Excellence ceremony – a night to celebrate the incredible people in our organisation and the impact they have on their clubs, its members and their local communities – we are highlighting some of the inspirational people who are being recognised for their contribution to the community through Surf Life Saving.

The Surf Sports category includes Coach of the Year, Official of the Year, Masters Athlete of the Year and Surf Sports Team of the Year.

These awards are pivotal in recognising those who have achieved outstanding results or shown undeniable commitment to the surf sport; a crucial, competitive facet to the movement which aids in upskilling and engaging volunteer members.

“I know how important it is to keep people involved long-term and the more you have them enjoying the competition, particularly the kids, they will hang around for longer,” Coach of the Year finalist and Coffs Harbour SLSC member, Phil Evans said.

“We’re from the western suburbs of Sydney, we’d never really had anything to do with surf clubs as kids, but my daughter started when she was six and she’s now 17, gone all the way through to patrols.

“The sport side is a big part of it, and I’m the Head Beach Coach at Coffs – we’ve always been a water-oriented club but since I’ve been working with the different age groups we’re getting better all round.

“I have other clubs asking for help coaching their kids. My son has a lot to do with that, he’s a good athlete and the reason I got into it, but ultimately when you have the same people coming back each year you feel as though you’re doing a good job.”

Meanwhile, for Masters Athlete of the Year finalist, Davina Strauss, remaining competitive and engaged in the movement comes just as much from the desire within as the talent on the outside.

“You’ve got to love what you do, be consistent, dedicated and have goals,” she said.

Davina’s first taste of surf sports success came in the day of clubs competing on the world stage, when Elouera SLSC was crowned champions in 1996. Now at Coledale, her competitive edge has never waivered – even if it manifests in a different way these days.

“The main thing is to be healthy, that’s why I love the Masters. I’m not training as much but coaching and being around it keeps you competitive and I love the environment,” Davina said.

“I say to the kids I train now, they’ve got to want it in themselves and own it, that’s how I developed, but I can only facilitate and guide that mentality.”

The Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence will be held on Saturday 26 August at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney at 6.30pm. To keep up with the award winners and how the night plays out, follow our social media channels.

Coach of the Year

Stephen George, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Phil Evans, Coffs Harbour SLSC

Mick Lang, Tacking Point SLSC

Martin Cowper, Black Head SLSC

Scott Bryant, Caves Beach SLSC

David Smith, Shelly Beach SLSC

William Yeates, South Curl Curl SLSC

Sharon Deans, Coogee SLSC

Glenn Beveridge, Windang SLSC

Jackson Walsh, Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC

Bradley Coppin, Moruya SLSC

Masters Athlete of the Year

Colin Mustoe, Byron Bay SLSC

Larry Brooke, Port Macquarie SLSC

Kim Winter, Pacific Palms SLSC

Lee Howes, Newcastle SLSC

Paul Lemmon, Terrigal SLSC

Ashley Brown, Newport SLSC

Laura Thurtell, Bondi SBLSC

Davina Strauss, Coledale SLSC

Nathan Foster, Kiama Downs SLSC

Darren Drewson, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Official of the Year

Val Connell, Cudgen Headland SLSC

Amy Hannaford, Woolgoolga SLSC

Rodney McDonagh, South West Rocks SLSC

Kellie Connolly, Black Head SLSC

Rachel Soars, Merewether SLSC

Lauren Goldie, The Lakes SLSC

Matthew Molinia, Dee Why SLSC

David Hargreaves, North Cronulla SLSC

Anthony Lanyon, Wollongong City SLSC

Michael Crowle, Mollymook SLSC

Wendy Law, Broulee Surfers SLSC

Surf Sport Team of the Year

U15 Team, Cudgen Headland SLSC

The Orcas U23 Mens Boat Crew, Port Macquarie SLSC

U13 Female Board Relay, Black Head SLSC

U14 Female Board Rescue, Cooks Hill SLSC

U19 Female Taplin Team, Avoca Beach SLSC

Masters Beach Relay, Warriewood SLSC

Masters Team, Bondi SBLSC

Open Mens Boat Crew, Bulli SLSC

35+ Male Tube Rescue Team, Kiama Downs SLSC

Buoyos Boat Crew, Moruya SLSC

Tuesday 22 August 2023