Nicole’s journey to becoming Volunteer of the Year began at the Brighton Cricket Club, after her son decided to take up cricket. Despite having little knowledge of the game, Nicole wanted to be involved and had a knack for identifying key areas for improvement, leading to the role of Junior Coordinator. Four years later, Nicole’s impact on the local cricket community is profound.
When asked why she began volunteering, Nicole said: “I used to be on the board of Netball SA and Thunderbirds and whilst I liked being at the strategy and governance level where you’re making those higher-level decisions – I felt like I could achieve more at the grassroots level. I decided to take on a role at a community club where I know I can have more of an impact and improve the programs we’re offering to our children.”
Nicole is known amongst her peers as someone who is passionate about the club, and willing to go above and beyond in her role to see growth in the game. Nicole's initiatives at Brighton Cricket Club have seen a record increase in junior teams, continued growth in junior girls participation and the introduction of what is now one of the largest Woolworths Cricket Blast programs in the state.
“From where we’ve come four years ago to where the club is now, we’ve done so many really positive things. We’ve put a lot of structure around our junior program to try and make it different for our volunteers, make it easier and lessen the workload.”
Offering advice on how to run a successful volunteer-led club, Nicole is passionate about utilizing the skills of the people around you.
“It’s about identifying what people’s skills are and how they could add value to your club. If you approach (the work) in the right way and try and break things down so that it’s only a few hours of people’s time – you tend to get more people putting their hand up.”
Another winner on the evening was Ian Kenny, who took home Community Coach of the Year for his tireless work with Streaky Bay Cricket Club. Ian’s passion for coaching has seen him dedicate more than a decade of energy to his community.
Within Streaky Bay and across the Far West, if cricket stumps have been driven into the turf, then Ian is on hand to help. Rarely missing a training session, match or team meeting, Ian has selflessly given his time to encourage a love of cricket in players and supporters of all ages.
Believing in the power of sport, especially in isolated and remote communities, Ian fights hard to generate opportunities for the next generation, something that makes him a worthy winner of this wonderful accolade.
The final winner of the night from SA was the Barossa & Light Cricket Association, who took home the silverware for Community Cricket Association of the Year in acknowledgement of their work put in to creating a safe and sustainable competition for all.
The BLCA have worked tirelessly over the past three years to grow participation across the entire Barossa region, by delivering well-structured pathways and opportunities for growth across all playing groups.
A huge win for the Association was the introduction of the first female cricket competition in the region, something that the BLCA tributes to the overwhelming support from the community.
Three proud South Australians also heard their names read out as runners-up in their categories, including Katie Liebelt, recognised for her work celebrating cricket in schools.
A long-standing cricket fan, Katie has played a towering role in creating opportunities within her school and wider community for girls to get involved. Utilising strong student relationships, Katie always encourages signing up to cricket while highlighting the benefits sport can have on physical and mental wellbeing.
Second in the category of Indoor Facility of the Year was Mega Courts Indoor Sports, Windsor Garden’s local indoor sports centre. As one of the largest indoor facilities in the state, the MCIS has made a name for itself as the home of specialised cricket programs. Whether it be through school holiday programs or advanced one-on-one coaching – the MCIS offers a space for beginners, emerging talents, and everyone in between.
Lastly, the Morphettville Park Cricket Club proudly came in as runner-up in their category for Inclusion Diversity Initiative of the Year. This well-deserved nomination came off the back of the MPCC’s latest initiative - a weekly cricket program for players with a disability.
With the support of the participants’ parents and carers, the MPCC worked hard last season to develop and launch the inclusive program – with longevity and sustainability for future years their main priority. The MPCC pride themselves on being the people’s cricket club, forever going above and beyond to create a welcoming environment for all players.
Congratulations to all South Australian winners and runners-up. We truly cannot do what we do and grow this great game in our state without your tireless efforts behind the scenes.