A “stunned” Kellie-Jean Johnston is the toast of the Wallsend Touch Association after being named Administrator of the Year on Saturday night.
But, it was a hugely prosperous evening for the Newcastle club and a number of its members, too.
At NSW Touch’s prestigious annual ceremony, conducted online due to COVID-19 restrictions and hosted by former NRL star Joel Caine, the Wolves also secured the Hunter Western Hornets Affiliate of the Year while Rochelle Stevens, Linley Kinny and Dawn Redman snared Blues Awards.
President Natalie Little and her triumphant Hornets under-18 girls, consisting of several Wallsend youngsters, took out Junior Team of the Year.
And, for good measure, Hunter Western was recognised as the Region of the Year.
However, the big winner was a thrilled Johnston.
She walked away with the Hornets Administrator of the Year honours as well, before edging out Katie Francis (Coolamon TA), Matthew Wong (UNSW SSR), Richard Stone (Balmain Junior TA), Carol Jones (Hornsby TA), Katrina McIlwaith (Hills Hornets TA) and Kendal Davies (Coffs Harbour TA) for the top gong.
“I’m shocked,” Johnston said.
“I feel privileged to be in this group with all these amazing people.
“I know a lot of them and the hard work they do for their regions.
“So, I’m very excited to receive the award.
“The Wallsend Touch Association was humbled and extremely proud to be nominated for several classifications.
“But, to be presented as the overall winner for several categories was the icing on the cake.
“Thanks to NSW Touch, the Wolves, the committee, the executive and all the volunteers, who are the backbone of the club.
“We are an amazing team.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
“We work so hard for our members and our community.
“However, the biggest reward is seeing everyone running around Upper Reserve, laughing and playing a bit of touch footy alongside their friends and family.”
Johnston credited her father, Harold “Puddy” Miller, for her success.
“I love what I do for my organisation,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.
“But, I know that my passion and drive for the Wolves comes from an amazing man, who had this little idea to start a touch footy competition at Crystal Palace (Wallsend) just over 39 years ago.
“I grew up watching dad and his love to grow a sporting club.
“I’m so proud to be part of the team that keeps his dream alive.
“He may not remember much these days; however I do and will never forget… he is my hero.”
Johnston admitted the pandemic had caused a few anxious moments over the past 12 or so months.
Even the current spring competition is in limbo.
“There’s been a lot of hours and late nights behind the scenes,” she said.
“Everything from doing our COVID-19 plan to making sure we’re meeting our requirements to ensure our members are safe.
“It’s been a very difficult year to what we’re normally used to.
“But, I’m very proud of the Wallsend Touch Association.”
Get all the latest Newcastle news, sport, entertainment, lifestyle, competitions and more delivered straight to your inbox with the Newcastle Weekly Daily Newsletter. Sign up here.