Ipswich tops in Queensland awards

THE Ipswich Hockey Association's dedicated band of officials, coaches and players received a massive boost for 2013 after winning the state's most prestigious award in the sport.

Ipswich was named Association of the Year at Hockey Queensland's awards lunch at Morningside on Sunday.

The deserved honour came as Ipswich's international player Jordyn Holzberger was chosen as Queensland's female rookie of the year and won the People's Choice Female Player of the Year award (see story below).

Ipswich Hockey president Margret Mantell was full of praise for her executive and management committee which stepped up to meet a major challenge.

"It's been a great team effort," Mantell said.

"Everyone probably got a bit of a wake-up call when our numbers started to drop.

"We just decided we all needed to work together to get hockey back where it needed to be . . . and that's what happened."

The Ipswich executive also includes senior vice-president Nathan Hooper, vice-presidents Karen Dolan, Peter Conway and Bruce McManus, secretary Trish Harley and treasurer Paul Mantell.

A management committee, including delegates from each club, also played an important role in Ipswich hockey's resurgence.

Mantell was thrilled to receive the award in her first year as president after accepting the position her father John Cushing held for 35 years.

"It was very exciting," the Flinders View administrator said.

"It's always a surprise because you just never know what other centres have done and what Hockey Queensland are looking for."

Mantell said Ipswich's 2012 recruitment strategy to revitalise junior hockey at Raceview was a major factor, especially with Hockey Queensland about to target new players state wide.

"It's probably because what we are doing will lead into their campaign," Mantell said.

Ipswich regional coaching director Neil Shearer and executive member Dolan led a committed team of people in growing the association's Hookin2Hockey program.

The 18-week Rookie 7s and 9s initiative helped boost numbers from 53 in 2010 to 210 players this year. More than 130 juniors were newcomers to hockey.

Ipswich efforts also resulted in a growth in junior boys teams, an area of concern in recent years.

"Neil has done some terrific work," Mantell said. "He's always trying to think of new ways and new ideas of approaching things."

An Olympic day was held to thank the junior players who dressed up in the colours of countries competing at the London Games. The under 5-under 9 players received medals.

At the end of the season, a free carnival was held for the youngsters who were also offered a discount on new Hookin2Hockey and junior registrations.

In a year of many successes, Ipswich Hockey also hosted an open day, conducted a survey of players and supporters and continued to develop umpires through clinics.

Ipswich Hockey Umpires president Bernadette Gotting was a finalist in the volunteer of the year category.

Mantell thanked the Queensland Times for its support, a partnership recognised at Sunday's awards function.

The first-year president said winning the award provided a lift for the new season starting in March after another open day on February 10.

"I think we're all a bit more positive and upbeat," Mantell said.

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