Victorian Fury and Melbourne Vixens players and coaching staff were well represented at last night’s Victorian Institute of Sports (VIS) Awards of Excellence, which celebrates the success of VIS athletes both in sport and in life.
2019 Victorian Fury Premiership-winning goaler and Melbourne Vixens’ Training Partner, Sacha McDonald, was recognised for her outstanding year working with a variety of teams and programs, by being awarded the 2019 Netball Coaches’ Award.
“It’s a little bit surprising…I wasn’t expecting it,” McDonald said upon receiving her award.
“But it’s always nice to win an award and get recognised, particularly when it’s from a coach. It’s obviously not a team premiership or anything like that, but it’s still nice to win something.
“As lovely as it is to win this award, the Premiership comes as a priority before any of this,” McDonald reiterated. “[The 2019] Fury season was pretty incredible. The team that we had around us was really special and made it all that much nicer when we won it – we got to celebrate altogether. It was a chaotic season for me personally going between a lot of different programs, but it was probably the most satisfying year I’ve had in my netball.”
Looking ahead to 2020, McDonald does not plan to rest on her laurels.
“I’m keen to get a bit more of a routine and a balanced season [in 2020], back with hopefully the Vixens and the Fury again, so getting back into routine, getting a good pre-season under my belt, getting my body ready for a hard-hitting season on court…they’re my priorities for 2020.”
Retired Melbourne Vixens stalwart, Renae Ingles, was the recipient of one of the most sought-after awards of the evening, the Sarah Tait Spirit Award, named in memoriam of the late Victorian rower, Sarah Tait.
Ingles received the award for not only her continual dominance as a resilient netballer on-court, but, but for being an inspiration in life as well as netball and a fantastic role model to athletes from all sports, past and present.
As well as being an instrumental member of the Melbourne Vixens, a mum to twin toddlers and completing her post-graduate studies, in 2019 Ingles’ life was thrown another curve ball when her son Jacob was diagnosed with autism. Consequently, Renae and her husband Joe devoted boundless time and energy to campaigning to raise awareness and an understanding for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Although Ingles couldn’t attend the Awards of Excellence, she appeared by video link with Joe to accept the award.
“I first walked into the VIS 17 years ago…a huge thankyou to everyone at the VIS who welcomed me back in, and all my teammates at the Melbourne Vixens.”
Ingles was also nominated for the Performance Lifestyle Award, which was won by Para-Alpine Skier, Mitch Gourley, who until just last week worked as Netball Victoria’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator.
As well as working at Netball Victoria in 2019, Gourley won a World Championship bronze medal in the Slalom, completed his Master of Business from Deakin University, and also worked as an Education Officer at St Joseph’s College in Geelong.
A full list of the VIS 2019 Awards of Excellence winners, can be found here.