Cootamundra's emerging sports stars and heroes recognised | Photos

The Cootamundra Sports Foundation has honoured and recognised the dedication and commitment of athletes and administrators.

The Ex-Services Club’s auditorium was packed with 160 guests to see the annual awards dinner on Saturday, and to hear from Temora Paralympian Scott Reardon.

After losing part of his right leg in a farm accident, Mr Reardon went on to become a world champion water skier, win the 100 metres sprint three times in the World Para Athletics Champions and win a gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games.

Aged just 12 at the time, Mr Reardon said he slowly realised that his dreams of becoming a professional rugby player were lost. He told people he made a decision about what he could do with his life.

“I had a choice, I could be an optimist or a pessimist,” he said.

“Losing my leg has been the greatest opportunity in my life. The things I’ve been able to do are quite mind-blowing.”

Mr Reardon said one his biggest challenges had been learning to walk again, however he said the secret to overcoming that was in how you think about it.

“We can look at things happening to us, or happening for us. I would not be the person I am today without losing my leg,” he said.

Mr Reardon said in a sport where 10 years of training and work could be undone in 12 seconds, everything came down to an athlete’s mindset.

“It’s something we need to be aware of, we can work on the physical side,” he said.

“Control what you’re thinking about, not what they’re thinking about.”

For Mr Reardon it meant keeping his mental focus on himself, not on what might happen or what one of the other nine people might do in the race.

In athletics it’s about individual performances but Mr Reardon said it was a team effort leading up to the 12-second sprint.

Often that team effort isn’t only a coach, but volunteers ensuring sport can be played and parents who ferry teams and children around so they can get to the game.

“We’re not in this as individuals, we’re in this as a team,” he said.

“I would not be the athlete I am without the support network I have around me and one that continues to grow around me.

“It’s vitally important that we all do something we enjoy and surround ourselves with people that make us better,” Mr Reardon said.


Sportsperson of the Year award winner Alexandria Oliver paid tribute to her team mates in the Cootamundra Cougars Under 14s.

The Cougars brought home the Team of the Year award following wins in the Western Junior League and Country Championships.

“The girls in the Cougars have been a great support, it’s a real pleasure playing with them each time,” Alexandria said.

“It’s a great privilege to be awarded the Sportsperson of the Year award.

“[But] all the finalists have achieved a lot in their own sports and would also be deserved winners.”

While Alexandria was awarded the highest individual honour on the night, she said it wouldn’t have been possible without help.

“It thanks to my parents they’ve done a huge amount helping me to succeed, more importantly, to have the chance to succeed”


The Junior Sportsperson of the Year Jack Ruskin is only 14-years-old but has completed a significant achievement.

Jack earned the black belt in Kumiai Ryu martial arts after completing the challenge.

Jack’s Sensei Andrew Finch said 14-years-old was the youngest you could attempt the challenge.

“I did the same test Jack did at 31 and it was the toughest (test) I’ve ever done,” he said.

“It’s an exceptional thing to do.”

To complete the test there’s a speech, essay, demonstration plus a six kilometre run to be finished in 30 minutes.

There’s a three hour class covering all the skills of Kumiai Ryu and then wooden boards to be broken.

Black belt challengers also have to defend themselves against another black belt’s attack with a knife, six times.

Lastly, there’s 42 rounds of full contact sparring.

Mr Finch said the test takes place over three days and often black belt challengers battle physical and mental exhaustion.

Jack finished this with 96 points out of 100.

He said it was a great feeling to earn the black belt and was pleased to have won the Junior Sportsperson of the Year trophy.


Swimming and football star Lachlan Sedgwick said sport was more than just a game.

Lachlan received the encouragement award for his representative and leadership duties in Southern Inland Rugby Union and ACT sides.

There’s also his efforts with rugby league where he won best and fairest in the Sacred Heart Under 16s team which won the State Small Schools competition. 

He’s also a referee for junior rugby league and is captain for the Cootamundra Swimming Club.

“The award is great to have, but I enjoy the game I play,” he said.

For Lachlan it was about having fun with his mates and giving back to the sports where he had experienced success.


The night wasn’t just about emerging junior athletes

Pat Kerin’s efforts helping facilitate cricket and Australian rules football over many decades was highlighted.

Mr Kerin was presented with the Max Rudd Trophy for services to sport.

“Cootamundra sport was indeed lucky when Pat Kerin moved to Cootamundra,” Sports Foundation secretary Graeme Worboys said.

Mr Worboys provided a sample of Mr Kerin’s sporting resume, 35 years as committee member, secretary and treasurer for cricket, 26 years for the Northern Riverina Cricket Council, 21 for the Riverina Cricket Zone, 15 years coaching representative junior cricketers, umpiring 520 games of cricket.

He said Mr Kerin was also a committee member for the Cootamundra Blues since 1991 and had been time-keeper at Clarke Oval for 28 years.

Stephen Cootes has been a quiet achiever for many years but his was brought in front of the crowd during the Sport Foundation’s awards dinner.

He was presented with the Administrator of the Year award.

Mr Worboys said he started working with senior rugby league in 1979 and has since become known as Mr Reliable at the club.

He started helping out at the junior rugby league club was awarded life membership.

During Mr Cootes time with touch football, he helped plan and launch the Cootamundra Touch Football Carnival and has been involved for 33-and-a-half years of the 35 years the event has been held.

Meanwhile, Darren Connell’s long time around Cootamundra’s cricket pitches was recognised with the Local Sportsman trophy.

Last year was another success for Mr Connell as his team, the Crusaders, won the premiership.

It’s one of 18 that Mr Connell has played in.

“He’s been excellent at cricket for four decades and richly deserves this award,” Mr Worboys said.

“Over this long cricket career he’s always displayed excellent sportsmanship.”

Mr Worboys said Mr Connell had been well supported by his parents who also dedicated more than their fair share of time to junior and senior cricket.



  • James Doyle, basketball
  • Wayne Parker, rugby league
  • Renae Glanville, leaguetag
  • Jack Ruskin, martial arts
  • Matt Berkrey, cricket
  • Alexandria Oliver, basketball
  • Jeremy Lott, dragon boat racing
  • Michaela Webb, athletitcs
  • Lachlan Sedgwick, rugby union and league
  • Anisa Rees, soccer
  • Sam Gash, rugby league and union
  • Max Tiernan, Australian rules
  • Samantha Graham, basketball


  • Cootamundra Bears Under 10s, rugby union
  • Cootamundra Bears Viva Sevens Under 10s and 13s
  • Sacred Heart Primary Stage Three rugby league
  • Sacred Heart Small Schools rugby league
  • Cootamundra Blues first XVIII


  • Team of the Year: Cootamundra Cougars Under 14s
  • Outstanding junior team: Cootamundra Bulldogs Under 13 Leaguetag
  • Max Rudd Trophy for services to sport: Pat Kerin
  • Administrator of the Year: Stephen Cootes
  • Local Sportsperson: Darren Connell
  • Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Jack Ruskin
  • Frank Smith Memorial Trophy for Sportsperson of the Year: Alexandria Oliver


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