Young basketballer Maddison Rocci is the winner of the 2016 Don Deeble Sports Star award.
Rocci beat a top-shelf group of 10 nominees to scoop the $5000 first prize at the awards night held at the Club Italia Sporting Club in St Albans last Wednesday night.
The runners-up were footballer Daniel Venables and heptathlete Jamieson Battistella, who received $2500 each.
But this was Rocci’s night.
She is a most worthy recipient after a year in which she achieved sporting excellence.
“It’s a great honour to have won this award,” Rocci said on stage after receiving the trophy from baseball super coach Jon Deeble.
“I couldn’t thank the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club enough for everything and to all the other sponsors who are involved in this. It’s such a privilege to have won this. To all the other athletes out here, I wish you all the best and good luck with everything.”
Rocci is an up-and-coming point guard learning her craft at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
The tenacious teenager is part of a Basketball Australia national performance program and a member of the AIS women’s basketball team.
Rocci, originally from the Werribee Devils, has done all she can in the under-age ranks, including Australian representation at junior level, to set up her future in the sport.
The next six months will be an interesting transition period for Rocci.
She revealed at the Deeble awards night that she signed a professional contract while at the AIS and is hoping it will lead to a spot on a WNBL roster next season.
“Hopefully, I’ll get into a WNBL team at the end of September when it starts,” she said.
Rocci would not have made it this far without the support of her family.
“To my mum and dad, they were always there for me and supporting me in everything that I’ve done,” she said.
“Thank you to my other family members for all the support.”
When interviewed for her nomination last year, Rocci credited her brothers, Kristian and Lucas, for giving her a competitive edge after years of basketball battles in the backyard.
“Sometimes it used to end in tears,” she said. “We always used to go at it with each other.”
Rocci’s ultimate dream is to make it to the Olympic Games.
She admires and strives to be like the players on the Australian Opals team.
Nominations are now being taken for the 2017 Don Deeble Sports Star awards.
To nominate a sports star in the west, email firstname.lastname@example.org.