As North Otago netballers walk in to their weekly training sessions, their inspiration will now be looking down on them.
The late Georgie Salter, a former Silver Fern and netball coach, was one of three people inducted into the Waitaki Sports Hall of Fame on Monday.
Five-time New Zealand boxing champion Emmett Gradwell, and 15-time New Zealand squash champion Ann Stephens were also inducted into the hall of fame at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre.
Salter, who died in 2018, was an eight-test Silver Fern, but it was coaching where she found her niche.
She guided the Otago Rebels to the inaugural domestic league title in 1998, and took Otago to its first national title in 66 years later that season.
Through the years, she mentored the New Zealand under-21 team, was a technical adviser for the Cook Islands national team, coached in the Beko League and had an affiliation with Waitaki Girls’ High School, and Dunedin’s Southern netball club.
Salter’s daughter, Rihi, accepted the award.
While her mother did not like accolades, Rihi believed she would be proud to be acknowledged.
“As you walk in [to the recreation centre], you walk past the hall of fame.
“Her Waitaki netballers come train here twice a week, so that’s a very, very special thing, I think, for those girls to walk past every day and see her when they come to do their trainings,” she said.
“Petra [Aspros], my best mate, and Abbey [McKenzie] are still involved in Waitaki, and they can come past and see her looking down on them saying way’.”
Gradwell, a former Oamaru boxer, travelled from Tauranga to accept his accolade, and said it was a privilege to be included in the hall of fame.
At 12, Gradwell won his first New Zealand title under Oamaru boxing coach Ave Luxon, with whom he worked with for 10 years until Luxon died when Gradwell was age 17.
He won five New Zealand titles, and narrowly missed selection for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
“Things like tonight being recognised for my achievements … this is really special. I have had a number of coaches through the years, but my first 10 years with Ave – that made me who I am. He laid the foundation,” Gradwell said.
He encouraged athletes to set visual goals of what they wanted to achieve in their careers.
“You’ve really got to see it to believe it.
“Anything’s possible, there will be lessons along the way.
“Be prepared for the highs and lows, and the thing I learned is you actually take those lessons out of those losses – focus on those goals, and never, ever give up.”
As a squash player, there was not a lot Stephens did not achieve at a national level.
She won 15 New Zealand Etitles, represented New Zealand from 1960 to 1968, and was inducted into the New Zealand Squash Sports Hall of Fame.
She was also a talented badminton player and represented New Zealand in 1957, 1959 and 1960.
The 88-year-old now resided in Hamilton and was unable to travel to accept the award.
But in a message she said she was a delighted to be chosen for the accolade.