The ceremony attracted over 270 guests and was hosted by the Minister for Sport, the Hon. John Sidoti MP, who was on hand to address the crowd and present a number of awards.

UNSW Head of Sport Mark Wright presents the award to Killer Whales coach Tim Hamill
UNSW Head of Sport Mark Wright presents the award to Killer Whales coach Tim Hamill

Among a strong field of teams from cricket, netball, basketball, touch and surf life saving, the UNSW Wests Killer Whales were honoured with the award for Community Team of the Year. Sport NSW recognised their prowess, noting in their award presentation:

"In 2018 the UNSW Wests Killer Whales completed an incredible clean sweep in all competitions – winning the Australian National League, Winter Sydney Metropolitan Division 1 and 2, Summer Sydney Metropolitan Division 1 and Ladies Open Canberra Cup. The team was recognised as UNSW’s Team of the Year, not only for their multitude of achievements but for their inclusive and supportive team culture."

Co-captain Lea Yanitsas summed up the culture of the team when she discussed how they approach big games.

"I think the biggest thing we do to perform our best is to each play our role within the team, for the team and only the team. If we all keep each other in mind then we will be prepared to sacrifice and work for one another even if that doesn't mean we play exactly by the whiteboard," she said. "We need to be prepared to give it all for the teammate next to us."

The Killer Whales have continued to welcome new players into the team and to welcome players back who have taken maternity leave and always ensure that the environment is inclusive and every member of the team, from the captain to the youngest and least experienced players are welcome and equally valued.

The team also includes UNSW Ben Lexcen scholar Amy Ridge, who balances her time in the water with the Killer Whales and the Aussie Stingers with her Arts/Law degree, thanks to the UNSW Elite Athletes, Performers and Leaders Support Program.

In congratulating the finalists and winners Sport NSW Chairperson Carolyn Campbell also paid tribute to the role sport and its volunteers play in promoting inclusiveness in the community.

“Sport in NSW relies on people who have voluntarily dedicated their time. Put simply, sport would not exist without them,” said Ms Campbell. “It is fitting these Award recipients are recognised and honoured. Community sport is the all-important base of the sports participation pyramid which ensures that NSW remains the premier sports state in Australia.

“Without the hard-working, selfless volunteers, tens of thousands of boys and girls, men and women, would not be able to enjoy the health, social and community benefits sport provides. Sport remains at the heart of communities across NSW and has the unique ability to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together,” she.

The 2019 NSW Community Sports Awards named winners across 10 categories, highlighting contributions made in coaching, officiating, and by teams, events and clubs.