The importance of memory in the Sportsperson of the Year

The names of the guests are endless.

Dawn Fraser, Alicia Molik, Lee Freedman, Jack Newton, Jane Flemming, Elka Graham, Mark Waugh, Steven Bradbury.

However, while the Sportsperson of the Year (SOTY) has run for 39 years in Cowra, with the aim of celebrating the local importance of sport while inviting nationally recognised athletes to take part, perhaps more notable is the breadth of community names the event has paid tribute to.

And not just nominees of the SOTY award, but things like the Bob Barr Memorial or the Sports Scholarship, which has enabled local athletes to explore their potential beyond the Cowra area.

Marion Starr, Noreen King, Daniel Hughes, Dorothy Bonser, Amy Edgar, Vickie Ticehurst-Croucher, Cr Bill West and Sid Kallas are just some of the recognisable names, whose personal achievements have permanently altered how their respective sports are perceived in the region.

And that's before you get to the surnames who have had a cross-generational impact across decades: Kurtz, McDonald, Day, Charnock, Picker, Lunn, Apps, Braddon, Langfield, Paine and Brien, among others.

The more time you spend with the list, the more daunting it becomes; centuries' worth of volunteering, training, competing and coaching, narrowed down to the scope of monthly and annual awards, slowly but surely mirroring the history of sporting endeavour in the Cowra area.

In my short time as Sports Editor, I'm struck by how excitingly open to possibility the Award, started by my late predecessor Barry Doyle with Don Kibbler all those years ago, still is.

There are several fantastic performances featured this year, some of which are at a national and international level, but there is also still so much out there that myself and the organising committee are yet to discover, that may well be celebrated in one or five or even 10 years' time.

The project is ongoing, because the story of Cowra's sports people is still being written. Even among this year's nominees - including the likes of Nicole Lowe-Tarbert (Martial Arts) and Maurice Brown (Motorsport) - it feels like we are witnessing stories still in progress, trajectories yet to unfold.

The awards are a footnote and marker in the stories of our sportspeople, young and old. To attend is to bear witness to a small but important part of Cowra's ongoing sporting history.

  • The Sportsperson of the Year Awards take place Friday, June 14, at the Cowra Services Club. Tickets are $40.