POWER 20: The most influential people in Gympie sport #1-20
#20 Adam Cross
ADAM "Crossy” Cross has been dubbed one of Gympie's best all-round athletes. He has represented Queensland in athletics and football, and has had his time as a reality TV star on Australian Spartan.
Cross has a love for CrossFit training and has a passion for helping people reach their goals.
Among his ongoing sporting commitments and training is a newly accepted role as coach of the Gympie United Gladiators' Division 1 women's side for season 2019.
#19 Linda Collins
LINDA Collins is the district president for Wide Bay Gympie District Ladies Bowling Association.
Collins has been involved with bowling in Gympie since 2012.
"Mum was an avid bowler. Her passion certainly drove me to love the game,” she said.
She has a total of 19 bowls clubs under her wing, stretching from Burrum Heads to Kenilworth.
#18 Dee White
BEING president of Gympie's biggest swimming squad is no small task, but Dee White decided she would take on the challenge earlier this year out of love for the Gold Fins club, with which she had a long-term connection.
About four months into the role of managing about 35 up-and-coming Gympie swimmers aged between seven and 17, White said she felt a calling to the president job because she had seen her own family heavily involved in the club's proud history.
She continues to helm regular Gold Fins club nights, as well as inviting squads from areas including the Sunshine Coast, Caboolture and Hervey Bay for competitions at the $22.2 million Aquatic Recreation Centre.
One such competition, set to take place next Saturday, will see around 315 swimmers and their families visit the Gympie region to take part.
White said her favourite aspect of the job so far was "seeing kids grow and be active”.
"Watching young swimmers interact with the older kids and enjoy themselves being outside and being active is very special,” she said.
"There's something unique about what our club provides, you don't see that happen often.”
#17 Geoff Haig
GEOFF Haig has been coaching women's soccer in Gympie for about 20 years and has been passionate about the sport every day.
Haig, a teacher at Gympie High State School since 1993, has also been a mentor and a coach to "thousands” of players.
He's coached school teams, Gympie rep teams, Wide Bay and State teams, and it's something he enjoys doing.
"It keeps me off the streets,” he said.
#16 Kyle Nix
A FORMER professional footballer who donned the famous Manchester United and England International colours in his playing career, Aussie-born Englishman Kyle Nix has already made a major impact on the local football landscape as head coach of the Gympie United Gladiators.
Nix spent time in Man U and Aston Villa youth set-ups before representing Bradford City and Mansfield Town in his senior career. He played for his country at under-16, under-18, and under-20 levels, capping his international appearances by representing England C in 2009.
The 32-year-old redirected his knowledge and passion for the game to coaching after overcoming "life-saving surgery” when doctors discovered a tumour on his heart "about two years ago”.
He soon found himself at the helm of the Gladiators in their first season as part of the Sunshine Coast Football league.
Nix was announced in October as the Gladiators' coach for next season as the club looks to expand and make more strides in their second year playing south.
#15 Shane Handy
SHANE Handy has been the driving force behind Rainbow Beach Surf Lifesaving Club for more than a decade.
"If lifesaving wasn't there, Rainbow wouldn't be open,” he says.
With that, Handy has been trying to grow the numbers of the club which has about 85 active senior members and 70 nippers.
As an inaugural nipper in the 1980s, Mr Handy was club captain for about eight years and today is the president.
#14 Scott Hoare
GYMPIE born Scott Hoare is as inspiring as they come, continuing his love for a physical lifestyle despite the massive hurdles he has faced in life.
Hoare became tetraplegic after a freak accident in December 2016 and, despite having the odds stacked against him, he is continuously smashing goals.
From not being able to move anything below his neck, to participating in games of wheelchair rugby and training clients at a gym, Hoare's story is nothing short of remarkable.
"The gym is where I am happiest,” Hoare said.
With a following of 3400 on his Facebook page Lift With Scott, many people are behind Hoare and his incredible journey.
#13 Charlie Dann
GOLFER Charlie Dann is on the brink of turning pro at the end of the year has his focus on the AustralAsian PGA qualifying school next month. He just played the Australian Open.
The former James Nash Student is touted as one of the best amateur golfers but his reach extends beyond golf.
He has a goal to help juniors on a permanent basis.
"I have been interacting with juniors at my club at Pelican Waters and I have given some equipment and other things I can give away to them,” he said.
#12 Ben Fitzpatrick
BEN Fitzpatrick's role in Gympie hockey is influential and remarkable.
He not only umpires but plays a large part in scouting for local talent to compete in Hockey Queensland.
Each year Fitzpatrick scouts 12-20 talents to play in rep teams and is an official under 18s men's selector for Hockey Queensland.
He has always had passion for the game, and now his full-time job is continuing to grow the love for the sport within the community.
#11 Arlene "Angerfist” Blencowe
KNOWN by her ring name "Angerfist”, global mixed martial arts megastar and former Amamoor local Arlene Blencowe has carved an impressive niche for herself in the cut-throat world of professional fighting.
A member of the Bellator MMA stable in the US, Blencowe returned to the octagon in stunning fashion with a brutal slam and punches knockout victory over talented rival Amber Leibrock in October.
"Angerfist's” latest triumph took her professional MMA record to 11-7, and a Facebook post to her 9000+ followers earlier this month revealed the 35-year-old is "itching to get back in the cage again early 2019”.
#10 Jason McPherson
SOME people know Jason "Macca” McPherson as the charismatic, energetic and enthusiastic owner of CPM Engineering.
In sporting circles, he is the man who resurrected Gympie Hammers Rugby Union Club from extinction in 2016.
The president of the Hammers and former coach of the reserve side, he was the driving force behind growing the club to include an under-16/17s boy squad.
In 2010, there were 20 players in school rugby. This year there were 303 participants who played more than seven games.
It is not just rugby union "Macca” is involved with; he has sponsored trophies and jerseys for junior rugby league's most passionate players for each age group from under-13s to 16s.
"I was never a great player as a child, but it was my passion which kept me going,” he said.
Macca aims to work with the Gympie Devils in 2019 to grow both clubs and the juniors.
#9 Leslie O'Connor
Leslie O'Connor has been involved with Gympie athletics for 28 years with varied positions.
Currently the team manager and coach, she started at the club with her children and has seen considerable growth in numbers.
"My children and now married with their own children, who also now compete and if I can help them I feel accomplished,” she said.
"When the children run up yelling 'Leslie, Leslie I got a PB', it is such a great feeling.”
With 180 athletes at the club, there have been hundreds that O'Connor has coached.
"Some of the kids I coached have come back with their own children,” she said.
"When they step in to have a go, they still throw the same way I taught them.”
#8 Steven Elliott
HIS dream of the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 is well and truly alive.
The basketball star was selected in the Australian Rollers team and won a bronze medal at the IWBF World Championships in Germany this year.
A natural athlete all his life, with an aptitude for rugby and running, Elliott didn't let the diagnosis of a debilitating neurological condition at age 13 stop him.
#7 Jason Bromilow
NOW approaching the back end of his fourth year as president of Gympie Cats AFL Club, Jason Bromilow has enjoyed perhaps his most successful season in the role both on and off the field.
Facing the gargantuan task of merging last year's two bottom clubs in Gympie and Pomona, Bromilow and his committee chose new coach Courtney Findlay to lead the former rival players in a new direction.
Not only did "JB”, Findlay and the club overall find a winning formula in the new venture, they capped off their final AFL Wide Bay season with a fairytale premiership victory over the Hervey Bay Bombers in September.
Not long after celebrating their triumph as kings of Wide Bay Aussie Rules, Bromilow and the Cats' committee successfully negotiated the club's transition to the Queensland Football Association for next season and beyond, after they successfully appealed against AFL Queensland's earlier decision to move the club in 2020.
#6 Joel Albion
A STALWART of the Gympie football world, Joel Albion has been instrumental in moulding the sport he has served for so long into what it resembles today on a local level.
Coming up on three years as president of Gympie United Gladiators Football Club, and formerly of the Gympie Diggers for eight years, Albion's influence helped rebrand of the Diggers, Lions, Golden City and Columbia under one banner late last year.
As the Gladiators fielded Premier Men's and Premier Reserves sides in their first season on the Sunshine Coast this year, Albion also played a part in another landmark decision for the region - moving more United teams into the competition for next year and beyond.
Season 2019 will now have every Gympie footballer from under-13 and up playing for the Gladiators in SCF competitions. Under-6s to under-12s can still play in Gympie for any of the four local clubs.
Albion said the significant overhaul was a "good step forward for football in Gympie”.
#5 Colleen Miller
COLLEEN Miller is not only the face of Gympie and Districts Netball Club, she has been an integral part of growing the sport in this region.
Since taking up netball six years ago, Miller has been leading the charge as president for two years and has seen player numbers grow to 380 members today.
There has been a jump back into representative netball after a period of Gympie not fielding teams, which has raised the profile of the club in the wider region.
Reaching out to neighbouring netball associations including Maryborough and Noosa has led to Gympie competing in representative carnivals, and developing the local umpire program.
Miller has overseen the strengthening of Gympie's relationship with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
#4 Lewis and Kym Waugh
THE duo are a power couple among sporting circles with Lewis captain of the Gympie Gold XI and Kym Gympie touch administrator growing numbers.
When Kym started playing touch as a 10-year-old there were about 100 players.
The competition has grown to 350 juniors and seniors combined.
"We have a lot of mums and businesses who put in mixed teams for the socialising, fitness and team bonding,” she said.
"It is an easy sport for girls because it is low contact and it is a sport anyone that can play. It is not hard to know the rules.”
Lewis is on of the driving forces behind getting more juniors being involved with the Gympie Gold.
The skipper is not short of experience, he has had seven years for the Gold and five seasons with the Sunshine Coast Scorchers.
He has been leading the charge for two season with the Gold and during that time more than 30 players have come through.
Away from the Gold, Lewis works for the Australian Cricket Institute and he looks after the entire Wide Bay region.
#3 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
HE IS one of the rookies ready to make his mark on the NRL in 2019 and beyond.
The Gympie product made his debut this year for the Australian junior Kangaroos and the Queensland under-20s and played in his first Intrust Super Cup grand final for the Easts Tigers.
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy didn't know how to pronounce the teenager's name when he showed up in Melbourne.
One thing he did know was that this teenager, standing at 197cm and weighing 107kg, has the all the makings of an NRL forward - he was big, strong and aggressive.
#2 Barry Fitzhenry
HIS name is synonymous with Gympie racing.
Fitzhenry's passion, love and knowledge of the sport is obvious in his weekly column in The Gympie Times called Turf Topics, which he began writing in February 1968.
Racing fans are informed through the column of the contentious issues facing the Queensland racing industry, along with results of the various cups held around the state, through his expert opinion.
Fitzhenry also breaks down the fields for every local race meet and produces a form guide.
From race caller to president and treasurer, Fitzhenry has done everything with Gympie Turf Club and is the heart of the club.
#1 Darren Burns
DARREN Burns is not only the face of Gympie rugby league, he is its driving force.
After a career in the national rugby league that had him play for the Brisbane Broncos, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Western Suburbs Magpies and the Sydney Roosters, Burns has provided a stable platform of motivation and inspiration to Gympie's aspiring rugby league players in a time where the game, at a regional level is struggling.
He has mandated the consistent presence of rugby league at a school level, which has led to a resurgence of young players in the local junior ranks, with 355 playing for the Devils juniors.
As rugby league grows to feature the anticipated National Rugby League Women's competition, Burns leads the charge behind the inaugural Devils women's team in 2019.
The next season will have the Devils expand to include four teams: A-grade, under-18s, reserves and women's.
But Darren Burns's influence and mentoring has gone beyond the playing field.
As When the Devils celebrated their 20th anniversary and old boys day, Burns brought the likes of Allan "Alfie” Langer, Petero Civoniceva and Jack Reed.
Burns has worked in conjunction with the Brisbane Broncos to provide education to Gympie region students in everything from domestic violence to healthy eating.
He continues to provide frontline leadership as president of Gympie Devils Rugby League Football Club, stepping up to the plate after the resignation of Gympie rugby league stalwart Jim Bougoure.