Published on November 7, 2018 9:25 am

2017 Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year winner: Jane Lange.

2018 Peta Searle Female C.O.T.Y nominees

Four outstanding women remain in the running for the 2018 Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year award which will be presented at a gala dinner on Friday November 9. Mark Koelmeyer reports.

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Four outstanding coaches are in the running for the Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year Award which will be presented at the AFL Victoria Community Football Awards dinner on Friday November 9.

The prestigious award is one of a number of coaching accolades that will be handed out at the event, with winners also to be crowned in the NAB AFL Auskick Coach of the Year, Junior Coach of the Year, Youth Coach of the Year, Senior Coach of the Year and Umpire Coach of the Year categories.


See below for a brief summary of the Peta Searle Female Coach of the Year Award nominees:


Shannon Knox- North Geelong (Geelong FL/ Bellarine FL)

Shannon is in her second year of coaching and has taken huge strides after leading her team to a Goldfields league championship last year.

This season, Shannon manages both experienced players aligned to the VFL side as well as girls who have never played before.

Her ability to help develop skills is evident by the team’s undefeated record with many inexperienced players becoming important parts of the team.

After being named Coach of the Year in the AFL Barwon league, Shannon has continued to develop with the help of others and her ability to listen to advice and then deliver the right message is arguably her best coaching quality.


Sonia Buckley- Lysterfield JFC (Eastern Football League)

Sonia Buckley is relatively new to the coaching scene, beginning with Auskick and then transferring to junior U9 boys.

She is considered by many around the club as a vital aspect in the development of young players and is constantly aiming to improve herself by applying for mentor programs and attending development sessions.

Her ability to engage with each family and get the best out of each kid is a key factor as to why she is successful coaching young boys, and her enthusiasm and passion has seen a steady rise in the participation of players, parents and coaches around the club.


Claire Heffernan- Aberfeldie FC (Essendon District Football League)

To say Claire Heffernan exceeded expectations this season would be an understatement.

Given the job of building a team from scratch, Claire not only put a competitive team together but led the team to nine wins and a finals birth in their inaugural season.

After just 14 girls attended preseason training, Claire’s hard work began to attract more players while offering one on one training sessions at local parks to help girls improve their skills.

Her role as a mentor and a leader enabled her to create strong relationships throughout the club, attracting the help of male coaches that have committed for 2019 while also retaining almost 100% of players for next season.

She embraced and helped build a family type culture, attending all club events and made an effort to improve herself with further training and development.


Laura Hickey- Timboon Demons Football Netball Club (Deakin Uni FFL)

In just her first year as coach, Laura has become a mentor and leader amongst a young group of girls in the Timboon region.

Having been forced out of sports with a health issue at an early age, Laura found her passion in coaching and has been able to build and develop a local girls team from scratch this season.

With so many girls new to the game, Laura emphasised the learning of basic skills and understanding of the game. While securing just one win this season, the team morale never dropped and the attendances at training remained high which is a testament to the culture she has created.

Laura’s approach as a coach is an encouraging one, ensuring each player is filled with the confidence to go out and compete.

Laura is held in high regard in the community and around the club. Her strong commitment to having fun and learning over winning has created a good environment and one that will continue to grow as she progresses as a coach.


STAY TUNED tomorrow for a closer look at this year’s 2018 Gerard FitzGerald Senior Coach of the Year award nominees…

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