On Friday 4 November approximately 400 Westlake Boys students, parents, staff, coaches, managers and corporate supporters celebrated the school’s individual and team sporting achievements for 2016 at the annual Sports Awards Dinner. Special guests for the evening were Westlakers Mr Michael Brake, Mr James Coughlan and Mr Gary Francis, all of whom were involved with the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio this year, as well as Sports Broadcaster, Hamish McKay.
Director of Sport, Andrew McBride, was host for the evening. He opened proceedings by reminding the audience that the evening was a celebration of all that is good about playing sport at Westlake – the wins, the losses, playing with mates, life lessons and the long-lasting memories. He thanked all the coaches, staff and parents for giving up their time to allow Westlake Boys students to achieve so much, and reminded every student that “you are creating a legacy for the thousands of students who will eventually wear your shirt, play in your position and step onto your pitch or court.”
As is tradition, the award ceremonies opened with the National Title-winning captains collecting their trophies, which were presented by the school Sports Captain, Greg Vukets.
National Title-Winning Captains
- Oscar Guo – Badminton
- Bradley Hall – Road Running
- Jae Yum Lim – Swimming
- William Li – Chess
- Rafa Yam – Squash
- Greg Vukets – Volleyball
Jubilee Trophy Winners
Westlake is very proud of its athletes who perform on the world stage. This year we had six young men who represented New Zealand at a World Championships and thus received a replica each of the Jubilee Trophy. They are:
- Greg Vukets – U19 Beach Volleyball World Cup in Cyprus
- Dan Hoy – Triathlon Junior World Championships in Chile
- Issac Letoa – Basketball 3v3 World Championships in Kazakhstan
- Oscar Guo – U19 Badminton World Championships in Peru
- Thomas Fyfe – Sailing – 29er Class World Championships in the Netherlands
- Henry Wilson – Sailing Optimus Class World Championships in Portugal
School sport would not be possible without the dedication of many people behind the scenes. One such group is the staff who give generously of their time and experience to manage and coach all sports at all levels throughout the school. Staff Awards were presented by former staff member, Gary Francis, Head of Paralympic Swimming, to the following staff members to acknowledge their long service or excellence this year:
- Hamish McKerrow – Volleyball, Rugby Union and Sevens
- Heath Nola – Rugby League and Cricket
- Nawal Jalloul – Table Tennis
- Lisa Keen – Water Polo
- Karl Jorgensen – Basketball
Manu Yam received a coach’s award for squash. Manu is one of the most successful Squash coaches in New Zealand, especially in Secondary School Sport. Manu is the volunteer coach of all of the Westlake Boys High School Premier Squash teams. This year, his Premier team won all of the competitions that they entered. Westlake has had more students represent their country in Squash this year than any other school in NZ and they are all coached by Manu. Manu was the NZ Squash Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2015 and also NZ School Coach of the Year in 2015. Manu has now coached school aged students consistently for 25 years.
John Howard received an award for volleyball. He began coaching at Westlake in 2012 and has never missed a single coaching session. In 2013 John coached the Premier Junior side to Auckland and North Island titles. John then planned a Senior National title and, despite a setback in 2014, he took them to third place at Nationals in 2015. Although most of the team left in 2016, through hard work and perseverance John helped them achieve the goal of National Champions. His level of loyalty, commitment and resilience speak volumes for his character.
A special award was given this year to Tracey McKay who, over the years has done a monumental job taking photographs at almost every school event. In the past three years alone she has taken 36,967 photographs for sport.
The Bev Russell Trophy for Top Student Coach
This award was inaugurated in 2015 in memory of Bev Russell, teacher and coach who is missed by students, staff and family. It was not easy to pick one winner from some 100 students who coached teams across all sports. Bev’s son, Keegan, presented the award to this year’s recipient, Cooper Green. Selfless, genuine, honest and hard-working, Cooper took a 7th Grade rugby team to an Auckland title, juggling this commitment with his own 1st XV training and matches, as well as his studies and exams.
The waiters for the evening’s delicious dinner were the Distance Running Group, raising funds for their 2017 trip to South Africa. Dinner was followed by the three Westlaker guests, James Coughlan (Hockey), Michael Brake (Rowing), and Gary Francis (Paralympic Swimming Coach) being interviewed by Hamish McKay. They gave a fascinating insight into the life of the Olympic village, a typical day in their training programmes, what motivates them and how they overcome setbacks. When asked what advice they would give the aspiring Olympians in the room, they all said perseverance was their number one tip.
Sports Captain’s Address
2016 Sports Captain, Greg Vukets, thanked the panel for their words of advice. Personally he had two main messages for the students, which he had learned during his five years at Westlake. The first was to try really hard and that, with hard work, you can achieve more than you thought you would be able to. His second message was to have pride in the school and treasure your time playing with your mates for Westlake and make the most of the opportunities presented along the way to share unforgettable life experiences.
The individual awards for students in each sport were announced by Deputy Headmaster, Joe Cachopa. The raffle, raising funds for the Distance Running Group, was drawn by students Josh Arnott and Craig Templeton, who arrived in January from South Africa and have had a significant impact on the life of the school this year. They have coached junior teams, worked in the Holiday Programmes and played Premier Hockey and Premier Cricket, and all with a friendly, positive attitude.
Colours Awards are reserved for students that either provide exceptional service to their sport over a number of years or have achieved highly during the current year. Each sport has its own criteria and Premier Coaches nominate the members of their teams. This year we were pleased to award colours to 52 students across 20 sports, including all-round colours for Dan Hoy and Greg Vukets.
Following the colours awards, we moved to the special awards, which were presented by Headmaster, David Ferguson.
The Brett Hart Trophy for Team of the Year
In a year with so many successes, there were six nominations for Team of the Year: Badminton, Chess, Squash and Volleyball – all National Champions – and the 1st XI Cricket (National Runners up) and 1st XV Rugby (North Harbour Champions) teams.
One team stood out against their peers this year, winning six trophies and barely losing a set. They were simply unstoppable – the Premier Squash team.
The Alf Butt Trophy for True Sportsmanship
Sportsmanship and humility, coupled with a steely determination, are qualities ingrained in this year’s winner, Rafa Yam.
His commitment to training and being the best he can be is outstanding.
Captain of the Premier Squash team, Rafa led them with a quiet confidence to win every single trophy possible for two consecutive years.
He won every game he played and also represented both New Zealand and the Philippines.
The Colin Pascoe Cup
This cup is awarded to a student who has shown outstanding attitude and sportsmanship.
This year’s winner is Greg Vukets, captain of the National-winning Volleyball team and member of the Premier Basketball team, a New Zealand Representative and Westlake’s 2016 Sports Captain.
As well as being a leader and captain, Greg demonstrated his competitive desire to bring his best performances when it really matters.
The Simon Bryan Award for Outstanding Achievement
The winner of the Simon Bryan Award for 2016 is Zae Wallace.
Part of the Premier Rugby League team for the past three seasons, Zae captained the team this year. He was voted halfback of the year for the second year in a row for the College Rugby League team of the year and also received MVP of the tournament.
Selected for the NZRL Secondary Schools team, he won Man of the Match for his performance against Australia. Zae’s team ethic is superb, he leads by example on the field and his determination and winning attitudes are his strength.
Zae will play for the Gold Coast Titans U20 team in 2017.
The Arblaster Family Cup for Sportsman of the Year
The evening culminated with the presentation of 2016 Sportsman of the Year. There were nine finalists for this most prestigious award:
- Oscar Guo – one of the top Badminton players in New Zealand
- Rafa Yam – premier squash player, New Zealand and Philippines representative
- Zae Wallace – significant achievements in Rugby League
- Fine Inisi – exceptionally talented Rugby Union and Rugby League player
- Greg Vukets – Sports Captain, Volleyball Captain, Premier Basketball player and NZ Beach Volleyball representative
- Daniel Hoy – world class triathlete, NZ Cross Country and Road Running Champion
- Victor Ma – Table Tennis Captain and NZSS Singles Champion, NZ World Junior representative
- Jason Churches – exceptional swimmer, NZ representative
- Finn Kennard-Campbell – another outstanding swimmer holding several NZ age records
Congratulations to the 2016 winner, Daniel Hoy. Dan has had one of the most impressive years to date of his rapidly flourishing Triathlon career. He is the NZSS National Champion, winning the race by a record margin. Dan now regularly competes against the best triathletes in the world and has had six top ten finishes at world events this year. His best result was finishing first in the Senior Men’s Asian Cup in Korea. Dan has also had a stellar year with Distance Running. He is the North Harbour, Auckland and New Zealand Cross Country Champion, as well as a National Champion in Road Running. Dan is the first Westlake student to win the Sportsman of the Year Award twice, having previously won the accolade in 2014. Well done Dan! Westlake is very proud of you.
The evening concluded with Mr Ferguson thanking the sponsors, SAS and Benefitz, the guest speakers, the students and their families.
Full photo album for Sports Awards Dinner is here: