Medal limelight an ‘amazing’ thrill for Macedon coach Ciara Stewart

Ciara Stewart is the 2016 Ryan medallist. Picture Shawn Smits

Macedon’s Ciara Stewart has achieved a lot in netball, but individual awards have been few and far between.

Stewart, in her first season at the Cats and in the league, has normally been the one handing out the votes and awards – as coach, she looks at everyone else first.

On Wednesday night, it was Stewart’s time to be recognised for her efforts on the court at the Riddell District Football Netball League best and fairest night.

She was named the winner of the league’s Ryan Medal, the best and fairest award for the A-grade netball.

Stewart finished on 23 votes, three votes clear of 2014 medalist Lauren Close (Riddell) and Diggers Rest player-coach Amy Carroll.

Stewart was speechless after winning the league’s top netball honour.

“Seriously, I thought Chloe [Wilson] was in with a really good chance from our club,” she said. “I realise my age – I know that it plays a part on my ability to play the game. There are so many good players in A grade … it’s amazing.”

This year, Stewart has taken on a different playing role – having spent most of her career as a shooter, she has made the move to wing attack. She was named in that position in the team of the year.

“I’ve never played wing attack until this year, so to be in team of the year as wing attack – it shows people actually value what I do, which is awesome,” she said.

“I’m not young and I don’t have the legs of some of the girls, but I know I have a brain.”

The 37-year-old said it was the first time she had won an individual award since she was 19.

Stewart said the award wasn’t just for her, but her nine teammates who had helped her win it.

Stewart, who came to the league from the Geelong District competition, was also named coach of the year.

It turned out to be a great week for Stewart, with the Cats winning through to the grand final. Her teammate, Chloe Wilson, was named on the bench in team of the year.

Riddell’s Close was voted the Western Water player of the year by the coaches for a second time in three years and was one of three Riddell players named in the team of the year.

Riddell’s Cayley Armstrong was named in centre and her teammate, Bec Colwell, was named on the bench.

Rupertswood’s Katie Clarke, Tess Abbott and Stacey Northey were named in the starting seven along with Carroll.

Romsey shooter Hope Evans was named on the bench. Riddell mid-courter Carly Harrison was named as netball rising star.

Riddell’s Brianna De Haas took out the under-19 best and fairest award, while another Bomber, Jayne Close won the C-grade award.

Sunbury Kangaroos’ Toni Fogarty took home the B-grade best and fairest award.