Last night we held our annual Athletics Union (AU) Dinner awards and what an evening we had. Alongside celebrating the highs and lows of our AU teams this year. We were joined by stand up comedian, and our guest speaker, Tom Alban, for an evening of laughs.
The most exciting time of the evening for many was next after Tom’s speech with the beginning of the awards. With a total of 44 well deserved nominees spread across 11 different awards celebrating a range of teams, clubs and individual who have contributed to a wonderful year.
The first award was RAG Contributor of the Year. This award is to recognise an individual or club who has gone above and beyond for your two chosen Raise and Give charities this year, Buckinghamshire Mind and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. Our winners this year were Bucks FC who did a fantastic job, running a 12 hour futsal-athon, sweep stake for the World Cup, along with their own World Cup takeover, and supporting other clubs with RAG events and raising over £300.
The next award is to recognise an individual that has shown massive improvement over the last year, taking into consideration commitment and dedication to improve their sport. The Most Improved Player of the Year award went to Matt Mcdermott. Matt had limited knowledge coming into the year and is now starting as a flanker and first choice ‘jumper’ in the line out for rugby. A committed player both on and off the pitch, Matt was also involved in numerous volunteering projects and Students' Union campaigns.
Our award for Fresher of the Year went to Trinity Baker. Trinity has engaged outstandingly for her first year, being heavily involved in netball, women's hockey (stepping in as goalkeeper last minute) and women's rugby. Becoming the netball 2nd team captain and women’s rugby chair for the 2023-24 academic year, she has been ever present in Students’ Union engagement and is always willing to participate.
Next, we had the award for Coach of the Year. The winner was Dasha Naumova who has done a fantastic job with her Novice Contemporary team. Dasha’s Choreography this year has pushed all the dancers out of their comfort zones in a positive way. Her unique contemporary style has earned two best choreography awards and under her guidance, the team achieved three first place finishes in their competitions.
Team of the Year recognises the most successful team based purely on performance. The award duly goes to the Netball 1st team. They have had an excellent year, remaining unbeaten in the league and earning promotion. The team also reached the final of the South Eastern Conference Cup, narrowly missing out on doing a league and cup double.
After a short interval, we continued with the awards and picked back up with the Bucks Spirit of Sport Award. The award recognises those off the pitch, living by the Bucks family ethos and showing support to their peers. Tom Benton was awarded this as he has embodied the Bucks family ethos thoroughly this year. When an injury prevented Tom from playing at the start of this year, it didn't stop him from supporting not only his team, but his peers across the AU. Throughout the year he would help support players with any injuries or taping, he would go to matches to support players, help organise and deliver concussion testing, and even completed an FA Futsal referee course so that the team could play fixtures on home soil.
One of the most converted awards is the Captain of the Year award. Based on which captain has been exceptional at their duties all year, showing dedication and a commitment to their team. This award went Jethro Odumosu for Bucks FC 1st team as he has captained for two years and led the team to winning back-to-back promotions. His exemplary captaining ability has driven the team to remain unbeaten in the league this year.
The award of Committee Member of the Year was next and was awarded to Elliott West. A well-deserved winner of this award, Elliott has juggled being chair of football and boxing, as well as balancing the responsibilities with his third year studies. Due to his dedication and hard work, Bucks FC ran very successfully with Elliott organising and running several successful fundraising events encouraging the wider AU to get involved in all things football.
Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year honours the best male and female athlete whose performance most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement. Sportsman of the Year went to Stephen Smith, who has won multiple gold medals in Snowboarding Freestyle BUCS competitions, his first the regional competition followed by the national championships. Sportswoman of the Year went to Abigail Birch who competed in the Ambulant Shot Put and Discus. Abi has had a fantastic first year competing for the university, bringing home bronze in the BUCS indoor championships and winning the tri-counties at senior levels. She heads to the outdoor BUCS championship soon where we are sure she will do fantastically.
One of the most sought after awards came next, Club of the Year. The award recognises a club based on their overall success and achievements throughout the year. This was awarded to Women’s Hockey, who have shown a wonderful desire and commitment to seeing their club do well this year. Not only have the committee worked extremely hard this year, but so has every single member of the club. They have all been involved in every aspect of the Students’ Union, and have done wonderfully with volunteering their time and supporting fundraisers.
Next up, came the Outstanding Contribution to University Sport which recognises exceptional contribution from a member across their time with us. The award went to Nikki Littleboy. A dedicated athlete, Nikki started her involvement with the AU in her first year being a regular and valued competitor. In her second year she took on the role of Dance Captain and despite Covid having an impact, she continued to do numerous online sessions for the whole club. With this came a nomination for Committee Member of the Year. In her third year she became chair, in a year that saw Dance pick up 20 trophies. Now, as an Alumni, she has continued to show support in the form of a choreographer and helping other teams when needed. A well-deserved winner of this award.
Our last award of the evening went to Summer Knight, as she became the first netballer to be inducted into our Hall of Fame. Summer had a first year hampered by Covid, despite this her talents shone through for all to see. Having played for the Eagles in Maidenhead since the age of 13, she was playing at an incredibly high standard. Summer's impact was inevitably outstanding as netball reached the final of the South Eastern Conference Cup and finished second in the South Eastern tier 6 league in her second year. A season seeing her narrowly miss out on Sportswoman of the Year. Now in her third year at Bucks she captained the Netball first team to an unbeaten league campaign. Outside of University she won 14 out of her 18 matches for the Eagles, gaining promotion to Prem 2, the highest level of netball in the country. Summer also received 2 ‘Player of the Match’ awards throughout the season. Another well-deserved winner of this prestigious award.
A huge congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted and a big well done to all of our winners this year. We are so incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication you have shown to Bucks, and your teams this year.