The A-Z of Ipswich sport 2020: Are you featured?
IN a year of uncertainty where incredible resilience was needed, Ipswich clubs and sportspeople stood tall.
Many brave and ultimately positive decisions were made by sporting administrators in the face of challenges never experienced before.
In the first of a two-part A-Z series, let us look back at key moments, issues and amazing highlights from A-M.
A - Athletic feats, Ash and Amy
THE athletic achievements across all sports were commendable this year, especially having to deal with the COVID-19 challenges.
Standouts include exceptional runners Jude Thomas and Clay Dawson, and the Ipswich and District Athletic Club.
Thomas continues to set personal bests on his path to international competitions scheduled for next year.
Dawson keeps inspiring others with his marathon and masters competition deeds.
Ipswich club athletes of all ages keep returning from major events with incredible medal tallies.
That included four medals from club heptathletes at the recent Queensland Combined Events Championships.
Club athletes united to win a remarkable 28 medals at the latest Queensland Relay Championships.
The tally was nine gold, eight silver and 11 bronze medals. The Ipswich club finished third overall among the 20 clubs.
Lockyer District Athletic Club member Annie McGuire recently broke a Queensland under-20 long jump record with a personal best 6.49m leap.
Regional coaches like Vic Pascoe, Peter Reeves, Theresa Stolberg, Michael Moore and Mark Sills are first-class mentors.
Springfield-based Stacey Taurima was recognised in the City of Ipswich Sports awards for his mentoring and international athletics focus.
In tennis, Ipswich-based world number one Ash Barty retained her ranking despite not playing a tournament due to COVID concerns overseas.
Ipswich born and bred Amy Kickbusch (nee Korner) received a well-deserved honour in being inducted into Hockey Queensland's Hall of Fame.
The Centrals State School teacher sacrificed so much serving the Queensland Scorchers from 2002-11 and in 51 international games for Australia from 2005-07 and 2009-11.
"Hard work is definitely the case,'' she said. "But it's well worth it. You work hard and you get to see some really cool things.''
B - Barry, Bessie, Bomber and Bruce
THE name Barry Dancer remains synonymous with elite Ipswich sporting achievement.
That's why he was a worthy inductee into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame this year.
Dancer was a lifetime Hancocks Hockey Club player, coach and supporter, teaching at Ipswich Grammar School for a decade.
During his celebrated coaching career, the master tactician guided the Australian Kookaburras men's team to an historic first gold medal triumph at the 2004 Olympics.
Teams mentored by Dancer also set the highest standards at World Cup and Champions Trophy tournaments. The Dancer international victory list also features Kookaburras gold medal glories at the 2002 (Manchester) and 2006 (Melbourne) Commonwealth Games.
"I count myself very fortunate to have grown up in Ipswich,'' Dancer said. "Those formative years, as a player and as a coach, there was a lot of things and people to learn from.''
Rugby league speedster Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga was Goodna's star recruit for the Volunteers Cup competition.
His kicking alone secured the Eagles more than a dozen points each game.
But that was only the icing on the proverbial cake for the player of the tournament.
His pace at the back handling aerial kicks or igniting attack were at times breathtaking.
Rugby League Ipswich board member and QT columnist Anthony "Bomber'' Breeze is a valuable city asset. His has a terrific knowledge and an acute eye to promote the positive aspects of Ipswich sport.
Bruce Clayton also deserves recognition for the fantastic photos he took during the year in the Volunteers Cup competition and for Ipswich Rangers.
C - COVID curse
WHAT else for C than COVID-19, the ever-threatening invisible enemy that changed every person's life around the world. Sport was massively affected by coronavirus, from grassroots to international level.
Ipswich sporting administrators had to make sudden decisions in late February and March about shutting down their competitions.
The Queensland Premier Grade cricket grand final was among the casualties with the Ipswich Hornets denied a chance to win their first major title as COVID struck our shores.
All sport was affected in some way with associations like Ipswich Netball calling off their seasons.
Other sports like hockey, soccer, Aussie rules, rugby league, basketball, netball and rugby came up with COVID-safe strategies or plans to continue.
Some seasons were extended into November, a rare occurrence for traditional winter sports.
D - Dedication and determination
IN the face of the brutal COVID impacts, many regional sports administrators displayed their commitment, courage and determination to keep their sports going.
Officials like Gary Parker (Rugby League Ipswich chairman), Pye Augustine (Western Pride football operations manager), June Nicholls (Ipswich Hockey) and Brooke Norgrove (Ipswich Basketball stadium manager) did everything possible to ensure their respective sports proceeded.
Their well-co-ordinated COVID-safe plans included special check-in entry points with hand sanitiser, reduced time allowed at venues and quick exit strategies.
That involved extra hours from the volunteers and officials to keep training and weekend sport going.
E - Everton, Eden and Eagles
SECURING a historic partnership with world renowned Everton Football Club was a major coup for Western Pride.
After months of careful planning, Pride officials launched their two-year arrangement with the powerhouse club as part of their International Academy Affiliate Programme.
"This has never been seen before in this region,'' Pride general manager Pat Boyle said.
Having been with Pride since its formation for the 2013 National Premier League season, Boyle was delighted to give young footballers such an impressive international boost.
Pride football operations manager Pye Augustine said the benefits would be widespread.
"For us, it is the biggest news and it's very exciting for all of us involved,'' Augustine said.
"They are one of the biggest, best clubs in football and for them to share their knowledge with us, we can't even put a value of that.
"The co-operation between the two clubs will help with the resources that we can deliver to our members, which will then develop the kids of the region.''
Eden Jackat capped off a strange but successful year by gaining selection in the Australian indoor hockey team.
That came after the Wests captain was awarded Hockey Queensland's Female Indoor Player of the Year honour.
"It's been a weird year,'' Jackat said, summing up the latest award situation and everything going on in hockey and indoor hockey.
But having made state indoor sides since under-15 level, Jackat led the open women's team for the first time at the national titles in January.
"I love the sport. I love the game. I love the people I play with,'' she said.
In Aussie rules, the Ipswich Eagles senior teams had mixed fortunes.
Both men's sides struggled for consistency after a shortened QFA Division 2 North competition was played.
However, the Eagles women powered on after their historic premiership win last year to just miss making another grand final.
In her first year playing footy, Eagles talent Sophie Crawford was named the league's best and fairest.
F - Flyers
THE Ipswich Flyers were the city's team of the year heading into 2020.
Although they missed making the latest Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup grand final, the Flyers highlighted many successful ingredients in receiving their award.
Ipswich Flyers head coach Nicole Grant and co-captain Emilie McInally offered some valuable insights into why the Flyers were named Team of the Year at the 2020 City of Ipswich Sports Awards function.
Reflecting on the Flyers 2019 QPL SEQ Cup grand final triumph, Grant said the right attitude was among the most important factors.
"Belief that you can win but still remaining humble,'' she said.
"Respect for your teammates and your coaching staff.
"Courage to push yourself at all costs.
"You need to put in the effort at training and in your own time.''
"It is a great achievement to be able to represent Ipswich and also our association at this level,'' she said, having given the Flyers more than a decade of service.
"The majority of our team live in Ipswich and are proud to represent the city.
"The Flyers have been a high performing team for several years and we were honoured to uphold that characteristic.''
G - Goodna Eagles, Goodna Sapphires and Gary
GOODNA was a base for some tremendous successes this season.
The Goodna Eagles kickstarted the highlights by winning the inaugural Volunteers Cup competition.
The Eagles lost just one game on their way to beating Norths Tigers 44-14 in the grand final at North Ipswich Reserve.
The Ramon Filipine-led Eagles produced some spectacular football in the series featuring teams from the Ipswich and Toowoomba competitions.
Weeks later, the Goodna Sapphires won their third Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup netball grand final in four years.
Led by inspirational captain Robyn Walsh, the Sapphires held out Downey Park 40-37 in the grand final.
That was another reward for the accomplished team that had to endure a delayed season start.
In the dependable department, regional hobby photographer Gary Reid did an exceptional job in recent months, capturing some outstanding moments in sports like rugby league, rugby, church soccer and cricket.
His junior images published on the QT online website proved popular around the region.
H - Hornets and hockey
AFTER the Ipswich Hornets men's side made the Queensland Premier Grade cricket grand final early in the year, the club's juniors went a step further recently.
The 12 promising teenagers guided by head coach Graham Power won the club's first Lord Taverner's (under-16) grand final at Allan Border Field.
The boys stuck together, never gave in and followed the game plan, even when under pressure.
"That's probably been a contributing factor because we've been stable. We haven't had to change the team,'' Power said.
"Everyone's understood the game plan and worked pretty well at what their role was.
"The fact that we only used 12 probably worked to our advantage in lots of cases.''
The young Hornets survived a run-scoring charge from Toombul to take out the one-day final.
After winning eight of their 10 games and a semi-final to qualify for the title decider, the Hornets juniors sealed the final by 11 runs.
The Hornets men were set for a shot at creating history before coronavirus Cricket Australia suspended all Premier and Community competitions across the country.
The decision handed University the Premier Grade trophy at the expense of Ipswich - without a ball bowled in the final.
The in-form and threatening Hornets had been on a roll during the back half of the season.
One consolation was Hornets mentor Aaron Moore being named Bulls Masters First Grade Coach of the Year.
The Hornets head into 2021 having won their last pre-Christmas game but needing to launch another victory streak in January.
In hockey, Hancocks won both A-Grade grand finals in the restructured 2020 COVID competition at the Raceview venue.
After scoring a double that broke an incredible deadlock against Norths, Hancocks striker Ryan Smith typified how much the latest Ipswich grand final victory meant.
"It's just exciting,'' Smith said after playing in another thriller between the Ipswich club rivals and worthy grand final combatants.
"We knew before coming here it was always going to be a game of attack because every game versus Norths has been high scoring and we were expecting that.
"It felt like both our defences were pretty on point tonight.''
Smith's second goal with nine minutes left proved the winner, giving his team a 3-2 advantage in the rapid-fire, up tempo duel.
Twenty four hours later, the thoughts of Hancocks players, coaches and supporters were with national league midfielder Layla Eleison after the club secured its fourth Ipswich grand final victory for the weekend.
Eleison crashed to the Ipswich Hockey Complex turf after being struck in the head during the second period of extra-time in the A-Grade women's grand final.
She was escorted from the field and taken by ambulance to hospital as a precaution after the injury scare. The grand final was locked at 0-0 with the prospect of shootouts looming when the incident happened.
Layla's younger sister Abby then conjured the sudden death winning goal with just three minutes of extra time remaining.
Amid the jubilation of finally beating determined opponents Thistles, everyone was concerned about state player Eleison's welfare.
However, Layla was later back on her feet and cleared of any serious injury.
I - Ipswich Force
THIS year's Ipswich Force senior teams created a new path to success in the inaugural Queensland State League (QSL).
With the planned NBL1 North competition postponed due to COVID-19, the new competition provided quality matches for the Ipswich men's and women's teams. Both made the finals.
Although the Force men fell one game short of the QSL grand final, they had a stellar season winning nine of their 11 qualifying matches to finish second.
Ipswich Basketball Association president and Force men's head coach Chris Riches played a massive dual role working with official Brooke Norgrove in keeping basketball ticking along.
The Ipswich Basketball Association also welcomed new development manager Brady Walmsley, who has wasted little time getting down to business.
Walmsley will also coach the Force women's team in next year's NBL1 North competition.
The Ipswich newcomer replaces long-time women's coach Brad George, who guided the Force team to a number of state league finals.
J - Jets, Jack and Jonesy
THE Ipswich Jets were hit hard when the Intrust Super Cup competition was called off amid the COVID crisis.
The Jets also shared the pain of club man Rogan Dean's awful ordeal. The strongman survived a motorcycle crash but needed part of his left leg amputated.
In typical fashion, the Jets club rallied around Dean in his time of need.
It was better news on the netball court where the Tracey Jeanes-Fraser coached USQ Jets side made their first grand final in the Sapphires Series.
The team's winning mindset developed by Jeanes-Fraser helped the Jets finish top of the table for the first time heading into the playoffs.
It was only the second year the Jets were involved in the Netball Queensland series.
After beating their grand final opponents days earlier, the Jets went down by 14 points in the decider.
"It definitely was mixed emotions,'' retiring player Lucy Benjami n said, reflecting on Ipswich's loss to Brisbane North Cougars.
"We were really excited to get to the grand final and it has been such a great season for us.
"We've had so much positive play.
"We felt we deserved to get there.
"We maybe played our grand final in the prelim last week (beating Thunder).
"That was such a tight game for us and we made the grand final.''
In cricket, Jack Wood is one of the remarkable stories this year.
After receiving a Queensland Bulls contract, Wood was added to Brisbane Heat's Big Bash League squad as a replacement player.
The Laidley-bred left-arm wrist spinning all-rounder got to play in the Heat's opening match loss to the Melbourne Stars in Canberra.
Wood ran himself late in the innings before taking two wickets, including Stars captain Glenn Maxwell.
Before joining the Brisbane Heat bubble, Wood shared a few thoughts playing for the Ipswich Hornets.
"Regardless if I get the chance to play or not, I think it will be a good learning curve anyway,'' Wood said.
"It's been an awesome year. I've just got to keep working hard and keep improving.''
Still on cricket, Centrals stalwart Wayne Jones continued his superb work keeping records of regional players.
Jonesy also managed a couple of half centuries and took some vital wickets for his First Grade team along the way.
He enjoyed sharing in Centrals' recent victory in the Harding-Madsen Shield Ipswich one-day final against Laidley. That was Centrals first title in the annual competition.
K - Kevvie, Knights and Keiron
THE Brisbane Broncos board finally saw the light in appointing Kevin Walters to the head coaching role.
That was another milestone for Ipswich-bred achievers.
It's up to the popular and team-minded coach to bring the Broncos together after their horror 2020 wooden spoon-winning season.
Walters played 50 games for the Raiders and won a premiership in 1989 before joining the Broncos. That's where he built his fantastic reputation, playing 241 games and sharing in five premierships before coaching stints with the Ipswich Jets, in France and working alongside Melbourne Storm maestro Craig Bellamy.
Switching to another football code, the Ipswich Knights made some more gains in their 2020 Football Queensland Premier League season.
Dealing with the extended competition challenges like other clubs, the Knights finished just outside the finals having provided more valuable game time to some exciting youth.
Coach Andy Ogden continued to promote under-20 players.
However, losing Japanese playmaker Sho Otsuka and goalscoring striker Lachlan Munn hurt the Knights most as they were trying to lock up a finals spot.
The Knights secured bragging rights over Western Pride - beating their Premier League rivals twice during the season.
In a fitting reward for the club, Knights shot-stopper Zayne Freiberg was named FQPL goalkeeper of the year for his outstanding efforts.
Another person keen to make an impact in 2021 is Jets coach Keiron Lander.
The former Intrust Super Cup premiership-winning captain took over this year from long-serving dynamic duo Ben and Shane Walker.
But Lander's plans were put on hold due to the COVID interference.
Keen to get on with the job, Lander and his team have resumed pre-season training for next year with an additional focus on fielding a second Jets side in the Rugby League Ipswich A-Grade competition.
L - Leanne, Laidley and life membership
Dedicated Ipswich Hornets Second Grade captain/manager Leanne Bichel described herself as the "sergeant general'' of her representative cricket side.
Having recently celebrated her 50 match milestone with the Queensland Premier Grade club, Bichel remains one of the most important cogs in the Hornets development.
She took on the team's manager role when she helped launch the first Hornets women's side into the higher level competition five years ago.
The former Queensland indoor cricket representative and honorary Australian vigoro player is still fulfilling an important senior role helping a group of 13-16 year olds further their cricketing careers.
"I'm on the field as a sergeant general, and off the field keeping them in line,'' Bichel joked.
Bichel's 50th match was against Sunshine Coast where the Hornets fittingly reached 1/150 chasing the home team's 149.
"It was a bit of a surprise actually. It snuck up on us,'' she said of her milestone.
Hornets club president Peter Leschke presented Bichel with a bouquet of flowers while congratulating and thanking her.
Meanwhile, Laidley looms as the team to beat in the new year despite losing the recent Harding-Madsen Shield Ipswich one-day final to Centrals.
The powerhouse country club has unleashed some new talent this season in exciting prospects Jem Ryan and Josh Reisenleiter who could make a bigger impact in the two-day competition after Christmas.
Despite a rare blemish in their last game, Laidley was the top performing team in the Harding-Madsen Shield series involving Toowoomba teams.
However, they will have to revitalise their run-scoring might without experienced campaigner Gerard Sippel, who is recovering from surgery on both knees.
Among those to receive deserved life memberships this year was jack of all coaching trades Ca lvin Hegvold.
The Ipswich sporting achiever looks back on the past three decades with immense satisfaction, having received a Met West life membership as reward for his incredible record of success.
In school sport, Hegvold is the only Met West mentor to have coached state championship-winning combinations in two team sports. He's guided boys and girls sides in basketball and rugby league.
He has also coached Queensland sides in both sports.
The highly-regarded Silkstone State School PE teacher said having faith in your players was an essential 'weapon'.
"The biggest thing you can have as a coach, that is going to point towards success, is the trust of your players,'' he said.
"You can be the smartest coach on Earth, you can know everything, but if you don't trust your players it's not going to transfer over.
"You can't fake that. You have to earn it.''
Since that valuable lesson, the long-serving teacher has guided teams to 39 state championships, with seven wins and six second place finishes.
He had also coached at five national club and school championships, with a victory and runner-up performance to bolster this amazing tally.
M - Musketeers and Michael
IPSWICH'S tradition rich baseball club has endured some mixed successes this year.
As the men's team struggle in the Greater Brisbane League without American imports, the Musketeers women are thriving. The Musketeers team was unbeaten winning a historic GBL grand final early in the year.
This season, the Musketeers women fielded two teams with the club's Red side making the grand final.
Musketeers player/coach Lyndsey Campbell has just been rewarded with selection in the Queensland baseball squad.
Her dad, club president Jon Campbell, also received his life membership as a deserved reward for his decades of service as a player, coach, and official.
Another person providing great service is Jets Buzz columnist Michael Nunn.
Nunnie is a football fanatic in every sense. But his dedication, knowledge and colourful descriptions make his QT online column a must read each week during the footy season.
TOMORROW: Check out N-Z in the Ipswich sport year in review highlights series.