Class of 2018 honoured at annual Awards Night

by Aidan Davis

Bowls Australia (BA) staged its eighth annual Awards Night tonight, at Mantra on View, on Surfers Paradise tonight, with the sport’s most deserving athletes, administrators, clubs and officials recognised for their outstanding contribution over the past 12 months.

Award winners were crowned for 11 categories, including the prestigious International Bowler, Male Bowler and Female Bowler of the year categories.

BA congratulates the following award winners, in addition to all finalists recognised at the sport’s night of nights.

Bolton Clarke Regional Bowls Manager of the Year

John Emerson (Western Victoria)

John leads by example in every element of the RBM role, within his previous region of Western Victoria and now within his new region North East Victoria.

With outstanding management skills, John has success engaging all stakeholders as a relatable, helpful and experienced professional whilst delivering vital outcomes for the sport.

Achieving exceptional results in his area and supporting team members as one of three Senior RBMs, John continues to be an integral member of the Program.

John assisted clubs with procuring $1.6millon in grants whilst completing over 400 visits to clubs, schools and local councils in his region.

Volunteer of the Year 

Geoff O’Meagher (Club Helensvale, QLD)

Geoff is a prized member of the Club Helensvale family and is highly regarded as their go-to operator when it comes to major events.

From the Australian Open, to the club’s prestigious 5-A-Side event, to the running of Jack Attack programs, Geoff oversees all club events and championships as chief volunteer.

Whether it be inputting results, marking games, collecting cards, tidying the grounds, pulling the sun shades back or returning the scoreboards back to their correct positions, Geoff does it all.

He has also assisted the local Gold Coast Tweed District in providing commentary to their live-streamed events.

A 12-year member of the club, Geoff has instilled a great culture and is progress-driven, a big reason behind Club Helensvale’s flourishing success.

Official of the Year

Sue Hogg (Manning Memorial, WA)

Sue is a highly distinguished International Technical Officer, having officiated at some of Australia and the World’s biggest events including the Commonwealth Games, Australian Open and several other national events.

She is credited with having an outstanding knowledge for the laws of the sport and contributes regularly in reviewing and improving the sport’s regulations.

An active member of her local club Manning and member of the West Australia State Umpires body, she is highly regarded both within her home state and nationwide.

City of Gold Coast Coach of the Year 

Steve Glasson (Club Mount Lewis, NSW)

Steve Glasson OAM has played a pivotal role in orchestrating the success of the BCiB Australian Jackaroos at all international competitions over the last eight years, as National Coach, and in particular, was a critical element of the nation’s scintillating performance at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Glasson has presided over the BCiB Jackaroos’ campaigns at the last two World Bowls Championships and Commonwealth Games, and has guided them to success at home and abroad.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games result has been etched into sport’s history books, as the BCiB Jackaroos’ best Games performance ever achieved, with five gold and two silver medals from ten disciplines.

An immensely humble man, who would no doubt attempt to downplay his role in the team achieving the momentous results, however, Glasson’s contribution to Australia’s success cannot be overstated or underestimated.

Kelvin Kerkow (Tweed Heads, QLD)

Kelvin Kerkow OAM similarly played a vital role in helping Australia to glory on the world stage, in his capacity as Coach of the para-sport team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Kerkow played a huge role in the off-green selection and on-green development of all BCiB Australian Jackaroos players chosen to compete at the Commonwealth Games, and specifically was instrumental in the success of the two para-sport disciplines.

Significantly, two of the nation’s five gold medals came via the two para-sport events, with our vision-impaired pairs and bowlers with a disability open triples producing two remarkable campaigns, breaking records in the process.

Kerkow was able to get the best out of his charges, which aided Lynne Seymour (67) and Ken Hanson (68) to set the record as the two oldest Australian Commonwealth Games gold medallists in history, in any sport.

Gary Willis (Cabramatta, NSW)

Gary Willis has tirelessly contributed to the overall performance of the BCiB Australian Jackaroos in his role as National Assistant Coach, and as was also an essential element of the record-breaking Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign.

Willis played a particularly crucial role in coaching Commonwealth Games debutant Wilson, 26, who became just the nation’s third gold medallist in the showpiece men’s singles discipline, behind Rob Parrella (1990) and Kelvin Kerkow (2006).

While Willis’ contribution to the whole team’s Games performance was extensive, he was also significant in helping steer the women’s triples and fours teams to dual gold medals; the nation’s first ever dual gold medallists from the same Games, and the first Australians to win Comm Games gold and world titles in the same two disciplines.

Furthermore, Willis’ considerable contribution to the overall Bowls Australia’s High Performance program and the development of the next generation of elite players cannot be underemphasized.

Stockland Retirement Living Club of the Year

Rockhampton Bowls Club (QLD)

Rockhampton prides itself on its ability to conduct its business affairs in a very robust and documented fashion, allowing for a seamless running of the club off the green which in turn has resulted in prosperity on the green.

Well aware that it, like most other clubs, is run solely using volunteers, the club has strived to ensure its policies and procedures are most up-to-date and their communication with members is highly-regarded.

The club has a solid financial base and its long-term viability underpins its fiscal model, always striving for growth.

Following a downturn in membership, the club is again experiencing an increase in membership thanks to a number of initiatives.

Members have emerged from Jack Attack, Twilight Bowls and Barefoot Bowls, while a number of high schools/colleges in the area have been targeted in a bid to attract a new demographic.

The club has also targeted a number of demographics foreign to the sport, including a partnership with JBS Meatworks with 180 foreign and 320 Australian workers set to try bowls for the first time at the club.

Consistently striving to involve itself in all domains of the community, the Rockhampton Bowls Club has emerged from a club struggling with membership to now, a forward-thinking, process-driven hub of the community with people from all walks of life stepping onto their greens.

Bowler with a Disability of the Year

Jake Fehlberg (Burleigh Heads, QLD)

At just 24 years of age, Jake has truly cemented himself as one of Australia’s finest para-sport bowlers in 2018.

A gold medal in his debut Commonwealth Games with Lynne Seymour to go with the Vision-Impaired Singles crown at the 2018 Australian Open, the Broadbeach Bowls Club played host to some incredibly special memories for Jake and Director/Dad extraordinaire, Grant.

Jake also produced some exceptional results in the 2018 National Blind Bowls Championships, collecting gold in the B3 Mixed Pairs as well as silver in both the B3 Men’s Singles and Open Pairs.

He was also a member of the para-squad that tackled New Zealand late last year in the Trans Tasman series, where he lead the team to eight wins from nine matches and a 3-0 series clean-sweep.

BCiB Insurance Brokers Under-18 Female Bowler of the Year

Jessie Cottell (Club Helensvale, QLD)

Another incredibly exciting product to come out of Club Helensvale, Jessie capped off an outstanding 12 months with victory in the 2018 Australian Open Under-18 Girls’ Singles and selection in the Emerging Jackaroos squad.

She was a member of the Queensland team that took out the overall prize at the 2017 Australian Under-18 Championships, winning gold in the Girls’ Pairs discipline along the way.

Jessie has enjoyed a strong rise up the National Rankings to sit inside the Top 25 (at the time of print), no doubt spurred on by her entrance into the Open-Age ranks, where she has debuted for both the Queensland Ladies Open team and Queensland Open team for the 2018 Australian Sides Championships.

Mentored closely by Sue McKenzie, a constant supporter for her throughout her short but distinguished bowls career to date, Jessie can also boast her triple gold-medal winning performance (Pairs, Triples & Fours) at the Queensland Junior Championships.

BCiB Insurance Brokers Under-18 Male Bowler of the Year

Josh Studham (Holdfast Bay, SA)

Josh enjoyed a historic year in 2018 by becoming the youngest competitor to win the South Australian State Singles title in the event’s 107-year existence.

Clearly a prodigious talent, Josh was a victor in the State Open Men’s Pairs and runner-up in State Under-18 Pairs, and in the process, was recognised as the South Australia Men’s Bowler of the Year.
Runner-up in the 2018 Australian Open Under-18 Boys’ Final and a strong performer with two medals at the 2017 Australian Under-18 Championships, Josh has soared to a National Ranking of 31 (at the time of print).

Josh represented South Australian at the 2018 Australian Sides Championships and will do so again at the 2018 Australian Championships in the Singles and Pairs.

Tourism and Events Queensland Male Bowler of the Year winner

David Ferguson (Engadine, NSW)

Finishing 36 points clear of Tasmania’s Lee Schraner to earn his first Number One Male Bowler title, David enjoyed success across all levels of the sport during the 2017/18 rankings period, ending the year on a high with inclusion in the Australian Emerging Jackaroos squad.

David amassed 543 ranking points during the period, 39 more than any other player in the history of the National Player Rankings System.

His biggest achievements during the timeframe include victories at the Australian Indoor Championships men’s event, NSW State Champion of Champion Singles, the Ballina Summerland Singles and Pairs, The Hills Twilight Pairs and the Engadine Broughton Triples.
Further recognition came as a runner-up int he NSW State Singles, semi-finalist of the Australian Open Pairs, runner-up at the Weston Creek Summer Fours and as a semi-finalist at the Park Beach Singles.

Tourism and Events Queensland Female Bowler of the Year 

Natasha Scott (Raymond Terrace, NSW)

Now a dual-Commonwealth Games gold medalist, Natasha produced an ever-so consistent 2017-18 period and secured her fourth Female Bowler of the Year award.

Having won the titles in 2012, 2015 and 2016, she secured the bulk of her rankings points through a grand-slam of NSW State titles, in the Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours, which collected 198 out of her 343 total points.

Additional points were awarded courtesy of success at the 2017 Australian Championships, with victory in the Womens’ Triples and runner-up placings in the other three disciplines, a semi-finalist placing at the State Champion of Champions singles and quarter-final finishes in the 2018 Australian Open’s Singles and Pairs.

Natasha eclipsed Jackaroo teammate Rebecca Van Asch by 73 points, who stormed home in the latter half of the calendar year to claim second spot.

Australian Sports Commission International Bowler of the Year

Brett Wilkie (Club Helensvale, QLD)

BCiB Australian Jackaroos stalwart Brett Wilkie enjoyed a scintillating conclusion to his nine-year international career in 2018, with both international events contested during the eligibility period played in his home city, the Gold Coast.

Wilkie was undoubtedly the most dominant player for the green and gold contingent during the Trans Tasman Test Series, staged at Broadbeach in November 2017, where he helped the BCiB Jackaroos retain the Senior Men’s Trophy, and as a result, was rewarded with the lion’s share of votes from his BCiB Jackaroos peers.

Wilkie secured 32 out of 120 total votes during the Trans Tasman, 8 clear of the next best performer, and 22 more than the third highest achiever.

At the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Wilkie secured a silver medal in the men’s fours discipline, alongside three of his closest friends and teammates, before bowing out of further international representation to pursue his career at the helm of the sport in his state, as CEO of Bowls Queensland.

Wilkie will be forever etched in the sport’s annals, as one of Australia’s highest achievers, with more than 240 appearances to his name and a swag of medallions of all varieties collected over the journey.