Regional Academy Awards Hits a Home Run

Written on the 29 February 2024 by SWSAS

Regional Academy Awards Hits a Home Run


Image: Dr Hugh McDonald MP, with Adam Bates family, Paige (Sister) and Vincent (Father) who received the award on behalf of Adam.


Up and coming 18-year-old baseball superstar Adam Bates, hailing from Camden NSW, has this week been recognised as the 2024 Regional Academies of Sport (NSW) ‘Athlete of the Year’, when all eleven Regional Academies of Sport from across New South Wales, came together at the Wenty Leagues Club in Parramatta, to celebrate and recognise the achievements of regional academy athletes and coaches, across five sport development categories.

Adding to his already impressive awards resume, which includes winning the South West Sydney Academy of Sport’s South32 Illawarra Metallurgical Coal ‘Athlete of the Year’ award in late 2023, Bates is presently involved in a spring training camp in the USA. Unable to be present in person at the event, Bates was able to appear via video, thanking the Regional Academy network, including his home Academy, the South West Sydney Academy of Sport, for his nomination and ultimate success in receiving the award.

When asked about his journey so far and experience within the Regional Academy network, Bates reflected on what he had learned within the many education and support sessions provided.

“The (South West Sydney) Academy (of Sport) has been crucial in my story up to this point, and not only by providing the baseball resources to improve my game, but also in providing seminars on right diet, managing school, sport and life, and also practical hands-on courses that have helped in making me the athlete I am today,” said Bates.

Keen to pass on his knowledge and advice for fellow nominees and award recipients, Bates said, “Dream big, the best things that come from life come from outside your comfort zone, so take that leap”.

Not bad advice from a young athlete who is now living his dream, having signed a multi-year deal with the USA Major Baseball League club, the Boston Red Sox.

Bates father Vincent, and sister Paige were both on hand to receive the award on behalf of Adam, with Vincent sharing that, ‘Whilst it could be said that Adam was sorry that he was not here in person, would actually be a lie, considering that he was presently living out his dream’. Both Vincent and Paige reiterated Bate’s appreciation of the support from the South West Sydney Academy of Sport and greater academy network had provided.  

Bates however was not the only young athlete celebrated at the annual event, with four fellow Regional Academy of Sport athletes recognised for their significant achievements throughout the year.

Each award winner was selected from nominations received from across all Regional Academies of Sport in NSW. The categories, and overall winners presented were:

  • Athlete of the Year – Adam Bates (Future Stars / Baseball), South West Sydney Academy of Sport
  • Athlete with Disability Athlete of the Year – Dylan Littlehales (Para Kayak), Central Coast Academy of Sport
  • Indigenous Athlete of the Year – Millie Sutcliffe (Basketball), Western Region Academy of Sport
  • Athlete Leadership – Keira Higham (Netball), North Coast Academy of Sport
  • Coach Leadership – Poihaere Birtles (Rugby League), Far West Academy of Sport


The annual Award dinner, proudly supported by Steadfast Group Limited, Underwriting Agencies of Australia Pty Ltd (UAA) and ClubsNSW was heralded as yet another crowning moment for Regional Academies of Sport, in NSW.

The Regional Academies of Sport were grateful to host a significant number of dignitaries from a wide array of NSW State Sporting Organisations, along with key representatives of NSW Office of Sport, the NSW Institute of Sport, Australian Olympic Committee, and Paralympics Australia.

Guests included Dr Hugh McDermott MP, Member for Prospect, AOC Chief Executive of Community Engagement James Edwards, NSW Office of Sport CEO Karen Jones, Olympic Gold Medallists Emma Tonegato OAM, and Sarah Ryan OAM, plus representatives from the Regional Academies of Sport network’s major stakeholders, athletes, parents, and staff from the Regional Academies, along with the South West Sydney Academy of Sport and Western Sydney Academy of Sport who co-hosted this year’s event.

The Regional Academies continue to represent an extensive geographic areas across NSW, with over 100 Local Government Areas and support services provided for over 2,000 athletes, and 300 coaching and program staff.

The Regional Academies of Sport network continues to grow in recognition and significance, across a wide range of organisations, such as the NSW Government, the NSW Institute of Sport, Paralympics Australia, and State Sporting Organisations, as we head towards Australia’s 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Alongside Adam Bates, the South West Sydney Academy of Sport fielded nominees in all categories, with Academy Basketball and Indigenous Program athlete Max Brown-Tjakuapi a nominee in both the Steadfast Athlete Leadership and UAA Indigenous Athlete of the Year Award, whilst AFL W program head coach Ben Robinson was a nominee for the Steadfast Coach Leadership Award. Wests Future Stars Para-Swimmer Daniel Lill rounded out the Academy’s nominees with his nomination for the Athlete with a Disability Athlete of the Year.




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