Hockey star Ella du Preez’s name is now etched into South West Academy of Sport history books after taking out the South West Academy of Sport’s Sports Star of the Year award.
The 18-year-old joins a list of accomplished A-list athletes – including Olympian Lauren Reynolds, surfer Jacob Willcox and West Coast player Isiah Winder – who have secured the esteemed prize over the years.
The Busselton product, who is now based in Perth, was announced the winner of the prestigious title in front of a supportive crowd at a sold-out event held earlier this month inside the Cube Theatre at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.
Du Preez, whose highlights include having a training agreement with WAIS and being selected as captain of last year’s U18 State team, said she was grateful every time she was able to get out on the hockey pitch and play a sport she loved.
“I was so shocked to receive the award because there is such a high calibre of athletes in SWAS,” du Preez said.
“Which is a kudos to the environment that [SWAS CEO] Bernice [Butlion] has created and cultivated.
“I guess this is just a nod – you know – in the right direction and it’s also a big appreciation for all the people around me and all they’ve contributed as an athlete, as a person.
“So, I guess that this isn’t just an award for me but for everyone else in my support network – it’s for my family, for my coaches.”
Other award winners include Juan Propato who was named Wally Foreman Coach of the Year, and dressage talent Lauren Rowe who collected the Emerging Star title.
Cyclist Lowen Ferry and downhill MTB racer Lucy Hill were named joint recipients of the Community Achiever award.
Guest speakers included Minister Don Punch and former Australian field hockey player Trent Mitton. GWN’s Shauna Willis emceed the event and the South Western Times sports journalist Justin Fris interviewed award winners on stage. Sporting luminaries spotted in the crowd included Paralympian Brad Scott and cyclist Connor Lambert.
The event was made possible by a number of sponsors including The Apprentice and Traineeship Company, Hexion Australia, Summit Realty South West, Nexus Risk Services, RCR Mining Technologies, Onsite Rental Group, The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Intersport Bunbury and Lomax Media.
Individual Athlete of the Year (Male)
- Winner – James Kiely (Athletics/SLS)
- Runner-Up – Gabriel Doolan (Athletics)
Individual Athlete of the Year (Female)
- Winner – Lucy Hill (Downhill MBT)
- Runner-up – Lucinda Jones (Swimming)
Team Athlete of the Year (Male)
- Winner – Jordan Smithall (Hockey)
Team Athlete of the Year (Female)
- Ella du Preez (Hockey)
Wally Foreman Coach of the Year
- Juan Propato (Soccer)
- Winner – Lauren Rowe (Dressage)
- Runner-up – Mark Holland (Golf)
- Joint winner – Lowen Ferry (Cycling)
- Joint Winner – Lucy Hill (Downhill MBT)
Sports Star of the Year
- Winner – Ella du Preez (Hockey)