WAIS Coach of the Year and Program of the Year Nominees Revealed

WAIS | Published: Wed 7 November 2018

The nominations for the 2018 WAIS Coach of the Year and Program of the Year have been announced with three shortlisted finalists in both fields.


The Awards represent the peak staff honours bestowed by the WA Institute of Sport and this year’s selections have returned a quality list of candidates.


In the running for the Coach of the Year title are Jamie Hewlett (Rowing), Chris O’Reilly (Men’s Hockey) and Belinda Stowell (Sailing) who have all been influential in their respective roles over the past 12 months.


Jamie Hewlett (Rowing)


Hewlett’s impact in elite coaching and pathway development has helped foster an encouraging strategic connection between WAIS, Rowing WA and local rowing clubs.


This approach is beginning to evidence gains in WA’s emerging talent pipeline, whilst Hewlett also coached the Australian men’s coxed four crew at this year’s Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic. The crew which included two WA members returned home with a bronze medal. Hewlett’s work across 2018, also earned him nomination for a peak Rowing Australia coaching award.


Chris O’Reilly (Hockey)


Chris O’Reilly had a positive impact over the past 12 months not only in his role with WAIS but also as the head coach of the WA Thundersticks and with the Australian men’s U21 national team at the Johor Cup.


O’Reilly successfully graduated two athletes from the program into the Kookaburras senior national team whilst he has also been a strong supporter of new WAIS initiatives, in which he has piloted a performance planning system and helped integrate a WAIS-UWA research study focusing on Gelatine.


Belinda Stowell (Sailing)


In a year that has seen Belinda Stowell personally honoured with elevation to the Western Australian Hall of Champions for her outstanding career as an athlete, she has continued to provide evidence of why she is just as highly regarded for her coaching.


Her WAIS program again launched medallists at Youth World Championship level, whilst a previously graduated athlete reached the podium at senior World Championship level and qualified the country’s berth in the event for the Olympic Games in 2020.



Bragging rights for the 2018 WAIS Program of the Year will be claimed by one of WAIS Men’s Hockey, WAIS Wheelchair Basketball or WAIS Rowing.


WAIS Men’s Hockey


The WAIS Men’s Hockey Program promoted two athletes into the Kookaburras senior international set up over the past 12 months whilst continuing to create effective opportunities for developing talent within the home environment, which was highlighted by five members earning selection for the Australian U21 team to compete at the Johor Cup in Malaysia. The program’s coach and service staff also helped three athletes successfully gain selection for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.


WAIS Wheelchair Basketball


In its first year of operation as a WAIS program sport, the WAIS Wheelchair Basketball Program has made significant gains under its inaugural head coach Brad Ness. The Program assisted six athletes onto Australian teams for the IWBF World Championships whilst Brad Ness was himself selected as an assistant coach of the Rollers. The successful integration of WAIS scholarship talent with their WAIS service staff has been a particular hallmark of the fledgling program’s foundation success.


WAIS Rowing


A wide return of nominations across this year’s WAIS Athlete and Junior Athlete of the Year awards, points to the high quality work being accomplished through the WAIS Rowing Program. From a KPI perspective, the Program helped graduate two athletes into Rowing Australia’s National Training Centre, whilst a series of home based and previously graduated rowers not only competed but also medalled at World Championship level. The Program’s culture has been noted for particular praise, whilst coach and support staff have provided invaluable assistance in developing and implementing successful talent identification opportunities.