Fitzpatrick earns top gong at Netball NZ Awards night

MYSTICS and Silver Ferns defender Sulu Fitzpatrick was the star of the New Zealand Netball Awards last night after winning the Dame Lois Muir Supreme Award.

The ceremony was an opportunity to highlight the achievements of everyone in New Zealand netball, from the ANZ Premiership right down to the secondary schools competition.

Fitzpatrick was well-deserving of the award following a stellar 2021 season. She took over the captaincy at the Mystics and helped guide her side to a historic maiden ANZ Premiership title. She was also elevated to Silver Ferns vice-captain later in the year.

The 29-year-old was recognised as the best netballer across all competitions and campaigns. Netball New Zealand described her 2021 season as “defining”, and that Fitzpatrick had done so through “her influential play and irrepressible leadership skills while upholding the mana and values of the Silver Ferns.”

After being one of only three Silver Ferns to play all seven internationals this year, Samantha Winders was named Silver Ferns Player of the Year. When there was plenty of youth coming through the international side, Winders provided great leadership and consistency, and was one of only three Silver Ferns to play in all seven internationals against the Diamonds and Roses.

The Aspiring Silver Fern Award was won by Paris Lokotui. She had an impressive first season with Central Pulse and was also called up into the Silver Ferns’ training squad for the first time.

Another star Silver Fern, and Tactix defender Karin Burger was crowned ANZ Premiership Player of the Year. Burger ranked first for intercepts and second for both deflections and rebounds, whilst being named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in six of her matches.

Mystics title-winning head coach Helene Wilson was named ANZ Premiership Coach of the Year. In her fifth season as the Mystics’ mentor, she was able to achieve the ultimate dream of a championship, breaking their 14-year drought since foundation.

Former Silver Ferns captain Bernice Mene was honoured for her contribution to the New Zealand Netball Players Association (NZNPA). Meanwhile, Kristie Simpson was named the ANZ Premiership Umpire of the Year, having officiated in a massive 113 elite domestic games.

Looking a a National Netball League level, future star Saviour Tui took out the Player of the Year after shooting more goals than any other player in the league (337), with a top-ranked efficiency of 91 per cent. Her efforts lead the Northern Marvels to win their first title at the level.

In other National Netball League results, Marvels’ coach Ripeka Pirie was awarded the Coach of the Year, while Zak Middleton was named the top umpire.

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