University of Ulster sports stars have won top awards at the Newtownabbey Sports Awards.
More than 300 people packed into the gala ceremony at the Theatre at the Mill, to see the Ulster Elks Women’s Hockey Club pick up the Team of the Year award, Ulster Elks coach Ricky Lee win Coach of the Year, and Ulster lecturer and former Ireland rugby player Maurice Field inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The awards, which were compered by sports broadcaster Jim Neilly, honoured the successes of teams and individuals from the Newtownabbey area in 2009.
The Ulster Elks had a superb last season winning the Irish Hockey Trophy, the Irish Intervarsity and Senior League One promoting them to the Premier League for the 2009/10 campaign.
Success ran right through the club in 2009 with the second team promoted to Junior League Two and the thirds promoted to Junior League Eight, while the fourth team went undefeated for the entire season.
Further success at the awards followed for Ulster Elks coach Ricky Lee who guided the team to their double all-Ireland success. In 2009, Ricky oversaw the development of the Elks as it grew to a club with four senior teams and two youth teams.
Ricky also coaches the Ulster Boys under-16 squad that recently won the Interprovincial Series and he has also been appointed assistant coach to the Irish Boys under-16 team.
He also holds the post of head coach of Royal Belfast Academical Institute and a coaching role at one of the Ulster Development squad.
Jordanstown Rugby Club’s Mike McKeever was also nominated for Coach of the Year, having brought the club to winning the Division Two Championship and promotion to Division One.
Maurice Field, an associate lecturer from the School of Sports Studies, was honoured for services to rugby by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A former Ulster rugby player, Maurice notched up 17 caps as an international for Ireland over three years, when he played in the Five Nations and the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.
Maurice has had coaching roles at Dungannon, Belfast Harlequins and Malone Rugby Club and has been a magnificent ambassador for rugby throughout his career. Maurice is also a member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, as well as having been involved in charity work throughout his life.