Shenae Ciesiolka is no stranger to kicking goals. At just 23 years old, the young footballer has donned some of the country’s most famous jerseys – including the Australian Rugby 7s and Brisbane Broncos sides.

Adding another feather to her cap, she has taken out ‘Sportsperson of the Year’ at the University of Southern Queensland’s Student Awards. “I was actually in Brisbane training with the Broncos so I didn’t get to see it, but Mum and Dad watched on my behalf,” Ms Ciesiolka said. Despite many events sidelined due to Coronavirus, the annual Awards ceremony went ahead without a hitch overnight, premiering online for the first time. “My parents called me after practice with the news – I was so thrilled,” Ms Ciesiolka said.

Halfway through a Bachelor of Education, the soon-to-be teacher is specialising in health and physical education. “I loved PE in school… it came quite naturally to me, and I’m hoping I can pass that on to other young people and help them as much as I can,” Ms Ciesiolka said.

The football star was among 17 of the region’s best and brightest who were honoured during the ceremony. A new award this year – the Clubs Response to COVID-19 Award – was given to the University’s Phoenix Cheerleading Club. The Club moved its fitness classes online and established a member check in program to support mental health. Ten other awards, including the All Rounder, Unsung Hero and Multicultural Community Service Award, were presented during the ceremony.

Other recipients included: Gemma Morthen (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award); Kiran Mahale (Multicultural Community Service Award); Ory Tattam (Contribution to sport award); Cade Banditt (Sports Recoginition award); Finaflor Taylan (Community Service Award); USQ Law Society (Highest Achieving Club Award); Kym Armytage (Student Representative of the Year Award); Dayna Champion (Club Member of the Year Award); Larni Wallace (Unsung Hero Award); and Daniel Sims (All Rounder Award).

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