The 20 most influential people in Gympie sport revealed
#20 Ann-Marie Warren
THE first female president of the Gympie Cats AFL Club, Ann-Marie Warren has a passion for growing the sport in Gympie.
Despite being new to the top job, in the short time since her since appointment in October, she has hit the ground running.
Since her appointment, women’s player numbers have doubled and Cats juniors will field two girls’ sides this year along with the under-12 boys’ and hopefully another two teams.
“I want to pave a pathway for our junior players to continue their sport into the senior levels and to bring a strong club culture,” she said.
“I am also passionate about my women’s footy comp. ... I am committed to keep it growing.”
#19 Kyle Nix
A FORMER professional footballer who wore Manchester United and England International colours, Aussie-born Englishman Kyle Nix has already made a major impact on the local football landscape as head coach of the Gympie United Gladiators premier men’s.
The Gladiators finished just outside the top four last season, more than doubling their 2018 points.
His passion and knowledge has been the driving force and has the Gladiators in a prime position to make a bigger impact in the Sunshine Coast competition.
He capped 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 “lifesaving surgery” when doctors discovered a tumour on his heart.
#18 Darren Burns
After a career in NRL 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 aspiring rugby league players in a time where the regional game is struggling.
He has enabled the consistent presence of rugby league at a school level, which has led to a resurgence of young players with 355 playing for Devils.
Burns leads the charge behind the Devils women’s team.
Last season the Devils expanded to four teams: A-grade, under-18s, reserves and women’s. This year it may have an under-18s girls’ side.
#17 Jarryd Gorman
JARRYD ‘Gormo’ Gorman was voted as Gympie’s best personal trainer last year and his passion for helping people reach their health and fitness goals propelled him into top spot.
He received 23 per cent of the total votes, second place 12 per cent.
Owner and trainer of J.Gorman PT he has built a fitness family with his clients.
Gormo has been involved with the health and fitness industry for about eight years and he enjoys most about his job is watching people grow.
“When I see people achieve their goals and the changes in their confidence and body and what they get from it, it is pretty much everything,” he said.
“When someone reaches their goal it is a satisfying feeling for me because that is why I do it. I feel like you have to be in it for them.”
#16 Sammie Sutton
HER passion for the game is such that she’s equally devoted as a player and a coach and Sammie Sutton has found great success in both. A bright light in a landmark year for Gympie United football, Sutton captained the Premier Ladies to lofty heights in their debut season, narrowly missing a grand final berth despite forming an amalgamated squad that had spent previous seasons as traditional rivals.
Sutton’s sure hand and steely nerve at centre-back for the Premier Women earned her Gympie United Player of the Year nods from fellow coaches Kyle Nix and Luke Wheeler.
She was United’s rep in the Sunshine Coast Premier teams to take on Brisbane.
#15 Danny Hawkins
A LEADING voice for the sport he loves, boxer Danny Hawkins’s inclusion reflects his tireless work ethic in and out of the ring.
An undefeated veteran of Fred Brophy’s famous travelling Boxing Troupe, Hawkins began his organised debut in devastating fashion in June with the WBF World Masters Australian Title 83kg when he knocked out Chris Fox in under two minutes. He backed that up last month with the 81kg ABC Masters Title against Daryll Leabourn.
Hawkins dedicates five days a week to coaching at his Savage Boxing and Fitness Centre, alongside wife Alicia, Mark Hanson, Michael “Tiny” Ditton, Tony Changyu Tseng and Keith Stubbings.
The not-for-profit gym has a tight-knit community thanks to Hawkins’s strong focus on inclusion, mateship and discipline.
#14 Leslie O’Connor
Leslie O’Connor has been involved with Gympie athletics for almost 30 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 are 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 almost 200 athletes at the club, O’Connor has coached hundreds.
“Some of the kids I coached have come back with their own children,” she said.
#13 Lewis and Kym Waugh
THE duo are a power couple among sporting circles with Lewis captain of Gympie Gold XI and Kym Gympie touch administrator. When Kym started playing touch as a 10-year-old there were about 100 players.
The competition has grown to almost 400 juniors and seniors.
“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 ... anyone can play.”
Kym had laced up the boots at state level but last year donned green and gold for the first time at the Touch World Cup, bringing back gold.
Lewis is one of the drivers behind getting more juniors involved. The skipper is not short of experience, he has had seven years for the Gold and five seasons with the Sunshine Coast Scorchers.
#12 Allie Salter
The ‘Blonde Flash’ as she is known among union circles, was dubbed the 2019 Athlete of the Year.
She rallied her peers and the broader public contending against 18 other athletes.
“I was looking at all the people and their achievements and I was thinking wow there are so many talents in Gympie,” she said.
“It was a bit of surprise and it felt pretty good.”
Salter has played for the Sunshine Coast Stingrays 7s and Queensland 7s.
She is a part of the Sunshine Coast Fever under-18 girls’ side to play in the Tropical 7s tournament in Orlando, Florida.
Through these achievements Salter has a top 20 spot.
#11 Dee White
It was a historic moment for Gympie and a first for The Gympie Times when the Gympie Gold Rush Swim Meet was livestreamed. Gympie Gold Fins president Dee White was in charge with 321 swimmers from 23 clubs around Queensland.
This annual event has had a steady incline of numbers, with 286 in 2018 and White hopes it continues.
Being president of Gympie’s biggest swimming squad is no small task and she has been there for two years.
She put her had up to take over simply out of love for the job and to take on the challenge.
One of Gympie’s best swimmers, the Mooloo Kid Troy Carlson started his career in the Gold City. White is nurturing plenty of aspiring swimmers to reach their dreams.
Her favourite aspect of the job so far was “seeing kids grow and be active”.
#10 Troy Carlson
The coach of the Gympie Devils women’s side has signed for another year.
After he took the side to the grand final in their inaugural season last year, you could not let go of him.
Carlson has a passion for growing women’s rugby league in Gympie, and coupled with his extensive knowledge the girls have been in good hands.
With a strong recruitment strategy, the Devils built a fierce attacking combination which earnt them the minor premiership last year.
Losing just a handful of players, the Devils women’s side is looking strong again with a few more debutants added into the mix.
“There are probably one or two that are not coming back but it is pretty much the same group of girls,” he said.
Can the girls go one better this season?
If anyone has the ability to take the side there, it is Carlson. He rightfully earns himself a spot on this year’s power 20 list.
#9 Troy Carlson
The “Mooloo Kid” has a massive list of ever-growing achievements.
He was dubbed Australian champion last year and is touted as one of our best swimmers.
A future of uncapped potential awaits, and he is bringing Gympie into the national spotlight at the same time as competing at carnivals across the nation.
Carlson was one of Gympie’s 16 and over boys’ champions at the 2019 Gympie Gold Rush Swim Meet last month.
There have been a few local swimmers looking up to Carlson. They hope to have a similar list of accolades themselves and believe their regional background will not be a hindrance. It is through this list of achievements that Carlson finds himself in the top 10 of Gympie sport’s most influential people.
#8 Shereene Moy
IF YOU have passed through the Gympie region school sport system in the past 25 years, chances are you’ve been lucky enough to know Shereene Moy.
The highly respected Gympie South State School teacher has dedicated herself to coaching for more than 30 years, spending most of that time within the region after transferring here early in her career.
What perhaps says the most about Moy’s passion for nurturing and encouraging sporting talent is her role as district secretary of all school sports, in which she co-ordinates between 140 and 160 children in an array of codes. Her coaching commitments include cross country, athletics, swimming, boys’ and girls’ rugby league and cricket at schools, boys’ touch, boys’ and girls’ rugby league and athletics at district level.
On top of that, she is the regional manager for Wide Bay swimming and Wide Bay boys’ touch.
Moy’s undying passion for sport and inspiring Gympie kids to follow their dreams earns her a spot.
#7 Rex Carney
VOTED by the people of Gympie as the region’s top coach last August, Rex Carney’s love for the “beautiful violence” of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a big reason for his ever-increasing popularity.
The head coach of Terra Luta Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, begun almost nine years ago as an extension of his Gympie Feed Barn along the Bruce Highway, Carney has garnered consistent acclaim from the community for constant focus on development and growth for all practitioners in the gym.
He finished on top of 40 incredible finalists in The Gympie Times’s top coach search, pipping junior sports stalwart Shereene Moy at the post with 17 per cent.
With almost 1000 people tracking Terra Luta’s progress on Facebook, Carney’s debut in Gympie Sport’s Power 20 looks sure to be the first of many.
#6 Arlene Blencowe
RETAINING her place among Gympie sport’s Top 20 biggest names, the MMA extraordinaire known as Angerfist emerged as one of the best female fighters in the world in 2019.
Under contract with the UFC’s rival promotion Bellator, the 36-year-old featherweight followed up an impressive slam and punches TKO victory over Amber Leibrock in October 2018 with two equally brutal displays last year.
In July she finished Amanda Bell in just 22 seconds, and came out the victor in a slugfest with former UFC contender Leslie Smith at Bellator 233 in November.
Now a winner of three straight bouts and a leading contender for the featherweight world title, Blencowe will anxiously await the result of incumbent champion Julia Budd’s fight against ex-UFC champ Cris Cyborg before putting her name forward for a shot at gold.
Angerfist has built on an already impressive social media fanbase as she enjoys the prime years of her fighting career.
#5 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui is already a hero to many Gympie juniors who believe they have the ability to make in the NRL because he did.
Our own champion has made an impact in his first season in the NRL last year.
He signed a three-year $2 million deal in December and joins the Gold Coast Titans in 2021.
Playing just five games starting off the bench for the Melbourne Storm averaging 20 minutes on the field.
Rock solid in defence, the 197cm powerhouse made 77 tackles across the five games, missing only two.
Fa’asuamaleaui earned selection for the junior Kangaroos squad for the PM’s XIII match against Fiji and against France.
He is being touted as a regular starter off the bench for Storm this year and is one to watch.
#4 Joel Albion
The former president of Gympie United Football Club orchestrated one of the biggest moves in Gympie’s sporting history – moving juniors into the Sunshine Coast competition.
Last year, junior players from under-13s and up moved into the Coast competition to travel like the Gladiators premier men.
It was a move was not without it challenges, Albion said he has lost friendships.
Albion was responsible for one of the biggest overhauls in Gympie football history – combining four clubs, Lions, Diggers, Golden City and Columbia into Gympie United.
If that was not enough, he was the driving force behind fielding two women’s sides – premier reserves and premier women’s.
He coached the reserves and Adam Cross took the premier women’s. Gympie had a competitive season, reserves just missed out on a finals spot and the premier women went down in a semi-final thriller.
#3 Colleen Miller
COLLEEN Miller is not only the face of the Gympie and Districts Netball Club, she has been a powerful force in 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 numbers grow to 368. There has been a jump back into representative netball after a period of Gympie not fielding teams and this has raised the profile of the club in the wider region.
Miller was the driving force behind bringing the former Sunshine Coast Lightning and NZ Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua to Gympie for A Night with Noeline in May.
Taurua shared her experiences and did a Q&A and about what made her tick.
This has been invaluable for the growth and continued passion for the game.
#2 Jason McPherson
SOME people know “Macca” as the charismatic, energetic and enthusiastic boss of Gympie engineering company CPM Engineering, that meticulously restored the Rattler locomotive.
In sporting circles, he is the man who resurrected the Gympie Hammers Rugby Union Club from near extinction in 2014. On October 17, 2019 he was named the Queensland Reds Volunteer of the Year.
As president of the Hammers, he has been the driving force in growing junior player numbers in boys and girls. In 2010, there were 20 players in school rugby in Gympie, 2018 it was 303 and last year nearly 600 participants who played more than seven games.
#1 Anthony Lanskey and Bob Leitch
The part owners, two of 13, of the 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare sure put Gympie into the national eye.
Punters at Gympie Turf Club for the Melbourne Cup all ‘backed the local’ and pandemonium erupted as the chestnut crossed for a fairytale finish.
There was a sea of orange and white (Vow And Declare’s colours) at the Gympie racecourse.
Some media outlets dubbed it the “Gympie Melbourne Cup”.
Lanskey and Leitch appeared on the ABC’s News Breakfast interviewed by Gympie product Lisa Millar.
This list is a subjective talking point, not a scientific guide. We welcome feedback from the public. It is about the 20 most powerful and /or influential men, women and children in Gympie sport.
How strong and broad is their influence in sporting circles?
Is there somebody you think should be on the list? Email your contenders to editor@gympietimes or comment below and tell us why.