Southern Sports Academy celebrated its 2021/22 cohort at the Wagga Rules Club on Friday 22nd July, attended by over 250 guests. It was the first presentation night since 2019 due to Covid-19 restrictions in previous years. The night was hosted by the engaging Dane McGuirk from Hit 93.1 Mornings and brought together past and present athletes, family, friends, and supporters of the academy in a celebration of athlete achievements throughout the year.

In recognition of 30 years of the Southern Sports Academy, past athletes were invited to attend and participate in a panel discussion. It was valuable for the current cohort to witness and hear of their success and showcase the Academy’s rich history in providing pathways for regional athletes helping them reach their goals. A massive thank you to Sophie Fawns (Netball), Zara Hamilton (AFLW), Ashley van Rijswijk (Swimming), and Josh Hanlon (Alpine Skiing) for attending and offering advice for the next generation of elite athletes.

This year saw the introduction of the Academy’s inaugural awards. These awards included Squad Athlete of The Year, Overall SSA Athlete of The Year, Coaching Leadership and Excellence, and the prestigious Jenny King Award – Chairpersons Award for Leadership and Excellence. The three Academy wide award winners will be the Southern Sports Academy’s nominations for the subsequent State-wide Regional Academies of Sport Awards to be held in Sydney early 2023.


See all award winners below:

Squad Athlete of The Year

Basketball:         Claudia Hocking and Charlie McCormack

Cycling:               Sydney Chittiden

Golf:                    Isaac Molloy

Hockey:              Abigail Wilkinson

Rugby:                Harry Hayes and Drew Brndusic

Netball:              Ava Moller


Athlete of the Year: Sydney Chittiden – Cycling
This award was selected from those athletes nominated for squad athlete of the year and determined by the athletes’ level of competition, performance, and standard of achievement.


Coaching Leadership and Excellence: Cameron Oak – Cycling
An award to recognise a coach within the academy’s program who demonstrated an attitude above and beyond, striving for the best out of their athletes, positively representing the academy and displaying initiative to improve their coaching abilities.

Jenny King, Chairpersons Award for Leadership and Excellence: Olivia Hopper – Basketball
This award was named in honour of Jenny King, the academy’s first chairperson for an athlete who demonstrates an attitude that anything less than my best is not good enough, desires to achieve in all areas of their life and positively represents the academy.

The SSA Individual Athlete (IAP) and Para Athlete (PAP) scholarship programs are designed to assist those athletes from our region who are deserving of support for their outstanding achievements, however, are not always able to access such support. With the continued support of our corporate partners Sureway Employment & Training and The Office of Sport, each athlete has received a cash contribution of $750 to assist them in meeting costs associated with accessing higher levels of competition, coaching or sporting gear that they may require as well receiving the full range of Academy apparel and related partnership benefits.

The following Athletes were selected to receive the Sureway Employment and Training

IAP and PAP scholarships for 2023.


Murray Beer – Touch Football

  • 14 years of age
  • Southern Suns – SWS Suns – U16Boys Junior Regionals (2022 Champions)
  • Named as middle for U16Boys NSW Merit team (2022 Junior Regionals)
  • SWS Suns – M20’s Nationals Touch League (2022 semi-finalists)
  • Goals: To make Combined Catholic Colleges U18’s side and then NSW for school.
    • Compete in Junior Nationals (Sept 22) and be selected for next level.
    • Play U18’s junior state cup (Feb 23).
    • Play M20’s senior state cup (Dec 22).
    • Travel and play in ACT Super League competition


Nathaniel Clake – Athletics

  • 14 years of age
  • PSSA – Cross Country (2018/19) and Athletics (2018/19)
  • CHS – Swimming (2020) and Cross Country (2021)
  • Southwest Little Athletics – (2017-22) -2022 Gold medallist 800m, bronze 400m
  • NSW All Schools (2020 – bronze 800m, 2021 bronze 800m, 400m finalist)
  • NSW Junior Track and Field Championships 2022 – Silver in 800m
  • NSW Country Championships 2022 – Gold medallist 800m and 400m, bronze 1500m
  • Australian Athletics Championships (2022) Finalist in 800m (7th)
  • Goal: To represent and medal at NSWCHS and All Schools
    • Represent NSW in the Australian National Track and Field Championships 800m final


Laura Hayes – Tournament Water Skiing

  • 12 years of age
  • Current U/12 Girls Australian Trick Record Holder
  • 2022 – 4th Junior Girls Trick (U/18) Moomba Masters (Melbourne).



  • 2022 – U/12 Girls Australian Trick title holder.
  • 2022 – World #4 U/14 Girls Trick – IWWF Tournament Water Ski Dynamic Ranking List.
  • 2022 – World #11 U/17 Girls Trick – IWWF Tournament Water Ski Dynamic Ranking List.
  • 2022 – Selected to ski as part of the U/14 Australian Team to compete against New Zealand. Unfortunately cancelled due to COVID travel restrictions.
  • 2022 – Named in the 2024 Junior Worlds Squad. Team will be announced at the National Titles in April 2023.
  • 2020 – U/10 Girls Australian Trick title holder.
  • 2019 – U/10 Girls Australian Trick title holder.
  • Goals: Continue to advance new tricks and increase her score.
    • Ski at Moomba Masters again.
    • Gain selection on the 2023 Australia v New Zealand Team.
    • Gain selection on the 2024 Junior Worlds Team.


Josh Hanlon – Para Alpine Skiing

  • 2021 Paralympics, Beijing, 6th Slalom Sitting and 11th Giant Slalom Sitting
  • 2021 World Para Snow Sports ChampionshipsLillehammer, 8th in Slalom and Giant Slalom, 16th in the Giant Slalom Sitting
  • Snow Australia member
  • 2020 NSWIS scholarship where he’s training with the Australian Para team
  • 2019 Australian ‘futures’ weekend
  • 2019 Ski training camp in Utah, USA
  • 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Competition, Mammoth Mountain, NorAm, 8th Men’s Slalom Sitting
  • Australian Development Team, based at Jindabyne, training at Perisher



The Academy wishes to thank all sponsors who have supported the programs throughout 2021/22; without their ongoing commitment to the Academy, regional athletes from within our communities would not have the opportunities to achieve in their chosen sporting arena.

Congratulations to not only the winners but to all Southern Sports Academy athletes. We look forward to watching your continued success wherever it may take you.