Local sports stars will be in the spotlight tomorrow night [Saturday 14 November] at the biggest Andover and District Sports Awards yet.
The awards will recognise the best, the most successful and the most dedicated sports people, coaches and supporters from the local area.
This year, the event – which is run by Valley Leisure and held at Andover Leisure Centre – has received more nominations than ever before.
Valley Leisure chief executive, Kevin Paterson, said: “Every day we see remarkable people come into our leisure centres and we know there are many more extraordinary people supporting and playing sport all around the wider community too. The sports awards give us the opportunity to celebrate their success, praise their dedication and encourage more people to be just as involved.”
Prizes will be handed out in 12 awards including: Coach of the year, Team of the year, Junior Sportsperson, Junior Sports Team, Lifetime Contribution, Outstanding Personal Achievement, School Team of the year, Sportsperson of the year, Veteran Sportsperson of the year, Volunteer of the year, Valley Leisure Special Recognition Award and the Valley Leisure Service to Sport Award.
Here are some of the nominees and small snapshot of some of their stories.
Injured soldier is nominated for three Andover and District Sports Awards
Determination could be injured Army soldier, Spencer Whiteley’s middle name.
The 37-year-old from Andover suffered life-changing injuries, which left him unable to walk, while he was serving in Iraq.
But nothing has stopped him from reaching some heady sporting heights.
Spencer is now fighting fit (and walking again) and today is a Crossfit champion and coach, who has been nominated for three Andover and District awards: Outstanding Personal Achievement, Sportsperson of the Year and Veteran Sportsperson of the Year.
One of his nominations reads: “He is just an incredible athlete that never ever gives up on himself or others. He inspires people all the time and trains himself with such determination that others are left thinking they have no excuse. If Spence can have a full on full time job, a family and coach part time, train and compete at a high level (giving the other European athletes a run for their money) then they can do it too.”
When speaking about the awards Spencer said: “I wasn’t expecting to be nominated at all, but was surprised and grateful when I found out.
“One stand out competition for me was the Worldwide Crossfit Open where I competed with 260,000 men and women. In the men’s 35 – 40 age category I was ranked 10th in Europe and 3rd in the UK.”
Spencer currently coaches at Crossfit Blockhouse in Andover. One of his clients and friends is Jamie Fry, a Strong Down South sponsored athlete, who is 18 years younger than him.
Andover Arrows hoping to hit the bullseye
The Andover Arrows netball club will be well represented in this year’s Andover and District awards.
The club’s Purple Senior Team has been nominated for Team of the Year while the founding members of the Arrows, Jane Tunney and Barbara Snow, have been nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award.
The team’s nomination reads: “Many of the players put something back into the sport by officiating and volunteering to support some 65 junior club members whose ages range from eight to 18 ensuring that the club goes from strength to strength and encouraging youngsters to participate regularly in sport. They are an inspiration for all club members.”
The club are not new to awards ceremonies, however, though as they were presented recently with the award for Outstanding Netball Club in Hampshire at the England Netball Goalden Globes.
Beating strong competition, the Arrows also won the regional award, receiving specific praise for supporting young players of all abilities to access the sport and for their support for community initiatives.
Trina Mornton, chairperson for the club said: “I am delighted with the recent accolades of the team. This is a direct result of the hard work and dedication of the volunteer coaches, the committee and the enthusiasm of our members.”
Andover Arrows Netball Club was originally set up some 12 years ago. They originally focussed on youth netball but have now grown to include training and competition for members from age seven through to adult level.
Over the years, all three of the teams have been crowned league champions. The senior team, The Purples, became the Andover and District Netball League First Division Champions in May.
Several of the squad now assist the team’s coaches at junior training sessions, which have a total of 50 members.
Top team and top coach finalists
St John the Baptist School’s year 6 tag rugby team and their coach, volunteer, Jeremy Duff have been nominated in this year’s Andover and District Sports Awards.
The school has been nominated for the School Team of the year award and their coach Jeremy has been nominated for Volunteer of the year.
With the dedication from staff and coach, the children won the Andover Schools’ Tournament and came 6th in the Hampshire Schools Tournament. A big victory for such a small school.
Sophie Pearson from St John the Baptist School said: “It’s fantastic. Parents and everyone from the school are so proud and so excited for the team. The team has worked so hard throughout the years together.”
She added: “I would describe Jeremy as dedicated, inspirational and committed. Just a great individual.”
Staff and parents from St John’s nominated Jeremy who has been coaching the team voluntarily for the past four years. Jeremy has won the respect of his and parents for the sheer dedication he has shown in starting a team from scratch.
Jeremy said: “I feel very humbled and honoured to have been nominated by the school and the parents. It was completely out of the blue, you don’t go into volunteering expecting to get something back.”
“I decided to volunteer because it’s something I’m passionate about. I like being able to provide kids with the opportunity to be part of something fun and competitive. What I like the most about coaching is, without a doubt, seeing children of all levels and abilities start a new sport and improve and compete together as a team. Whether they’re winning or losing, it’s all about progressing as a team.”