We caught up with Chairman Ashley MacDonald and Head Coach Arron MacDonald to confirm, congratulate and discuss our Club Award Winners for 2020.
The President's Award for Outstanding Achievement
"There were a number of worthy candidates for this award. We have an outgoing Coach and Committee Member (and former award winner) in Seb Benford, we have our first ever Aspire attendee in Livia Jackson, and there's a number of our other players and volunteers we could have given this to, but in the end it was unanimously decided amongst our Management Committee that we had to recognise the outstanding achievement of Coach Jo Brawn this year, and we'd like to congratulate her on winning the President's Award." - Ashley
"Jo's been helping us to build a female programme at the club from the ground up. That she was recognised by Basketball England's CEO Stewart Kellett on the launch day of the 'All Girls' campaign as somebody who had to be an Ambassador for it speaks volumes as to her commitment and passion to grow the game. While Jo's only been at the club for one season, she's a massive part of what we've been doing: she coaches across multiple teams, officiates, supports and promotes our programme, and she really deserves this recognition." - Arron
The Chairman's Award for Club Member of the Year
"I can't thank our wonderful volunteers enough. They're the glue that holds our club together, and we're so very fortunate that people believe in our vision and want to donate their time to contribute to it.
This was probably the toughest award to give this year, because we could have gone so many different ways with it. We have a fantastic group of team managers: Lynne Quelch, Sam Whiteman, Louise Sparks, Alex Bartholomew, Angie Williamson & Matt Bullock who all give up their time and really support our coaches in allowing them to focus on 'just coaching', with a number of them also holding other roles around the club, and supporting multiple teams on game day... they're amazing.
Any one of our coaches could have received the award, too, for their work. Though, in the past few years, we've tried to use this award to put a spotlight and share thanks with people who do a lot of their work behind the scenes, or support the club in different ways that we might not immediately see - we've recognised Andrew & Gina for their role in promoting the club, and Lynne for her work as Welfare Officer in getting us in the position to become a Clubmark Club.
This year, we wanted to recognise someone without whom, several teams at the club wouldn't be playing: our club referee, Jay Trye.
Not only does Jay attend multiple training sessions and games as a player for his own team, the local league men, he also gives up his time on other evenings to officiate other games in the Suffolk League - without him doing so, we wouldn't be eligible to play in the competition. He's also refereed our home NBL Junior games and assisted us in sourcing referees for the games, too.
However, his contributions to the club go some way beyond donning a grey jersey, or being a good player and team-mate.
Jay is - and has been for some time - one of the loudest, most passionate and committed followers of our team. He regularly attends other team's home games to support them, and when he does, you can't miss him... whether he's banging a tribal drum to start a "Defence" chant, blowing a vuvuzela (or some combination of the two!), his enthusiasm is infectious, and I believe that he's a role model to other club members - because we'd love to have many, many more members like Jay Trye.
I'd like to thank Jay for his dedication and support this year, and congratulate him on being awarded the Club Member of the Year." - Ashley
The Captain's Award - Bulldog of the Year
"It speaks volumes that amongst all of our committed members and devoted volunteers, there was only one nominee for this award, and that's because as soon as this person was put forwards, every member of our management committee simply agreed that it had to be them. When putting it to our Club Captain, Billy Smith, he simply replied: 'You're right, it has to be Will Witham'.
Will is a standout player within our junior development squad, so much so that he has earned an opportunity to play up at U16's Regional as an U14 player.
As coaches, we often hold up the biggest, fastest and most talented players, and whilst people may think that's what we're doing once more, that couldn't be further from the truth.
When I first coached Will, I saw a diminuitive youngster who was desperate to learn, never gave up, and competed on every rep of every drill. He often made mistakes - but never let that dull his enthusiasm for the next effort. He asked questions when he didn't understand, and helped others when he did. I'd love to say that those are things that Will learned from us, but I can't. What I can say is that others have certainly learned from Will, he's someone for whom our culture is second nature, and is already held up as a role model member of our club despite his precocious age.
What stands out to me more than anything is the consistency he already displays; in making eye contact when you speak to him, in doing what he's been asked to do, in his attitude and effort. Make no mistake about it, we're holding the spotlight on Will because we want more players to be like him: To care about team-mates like family, to work hard, to be positive and to show grit.
This season, Will has been a key player in the U15's NYBL Team, and took the aforementioned opportunity to become an important player in the U16 Boys team, which he'll formally move into next season. He also participated in our early season "Marathon" fundraiser, single-handedly raising quite a significant amount of money for our little club.
... and for all of those reasons, there was only one nominee - and he was the right one. Congratulations, Will." - Arron
Finally, from everyone at the club, we'd both like to take a moment to thank all of our members who work in the NHS and Police Force, as well as the numerous key workers at the club. Thank you for your dedication, and please, stay safe.