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AFL footballer Jack Viney

10 December 2021

2021 Deakin Sport Awards: Congratulations to our Sportsperson of the Year winners!

The 2021 Deakin Sport Awards celebrate the achievements of Deakin’s elite-athlete students and we’ve announced our 2021 winners online earlier this week.

We now come to the grand finale – join us in congratulating the 2021 winners of our Sportsperson of the Year Awards!

Ezi Magbegor taking a shot for Deakin Melbourne BoomersEzi Magbegor is Deakin’s Sportsperson of the Year – Female

Congratulations to basketballer Ezi Magbegor, recipient of our Sportsperson of the Year – Female Award!

Ezi, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at Deakin, has enjoyed a rapid upwards trajectory in recent years which recently culminated in her taking to the court as a key player for the Australian Opals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Despite being brought down by the formidable USA team during the quarter-finals, Ezi and the Opals’ performance was nothing short of spectacular. 

Lauded as a rising star at just 22 years old, last year Ezi helped secure the 2020 WNBA Championship for Seattle Storm and was named the Betty Watson Australian Youth Player of the Year at the 2020 WNBL Awards for her dazzling season with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Ezi also took home gold representing Australia in the Emerging Opals squad at the 2019 World University Games.  

Following news of her outstanding WNBA rookie season, Lauren Jackson – former star basketballer and Olympian flag bearer – was full of praise for Ezi.

‘Ezi is such an important and exciting piece of the future of our sport,’ she told The Australian late last year. ‘Watching her play with three of the best players in the world and win a WNBA title was a special moment.’ 

We absolutely agree – well done Ezi on your first Olympic Games, and we look forward to following your promising career with the Boomers, WNBA and beyond!


AFL footballer Jack VineyJack Viney is Sportsperson of the Year – Male 

Congratulations to our Sportsperson of the Year – Male Award winner, AFL footballer Jack Viney!

Currently a Bachelor of Commerce student at Deakin and vice-captain for reigning AFL premiers the Melbourne Demons, Jack has established himself as an absolute force on the field at just 27 years old. Displaying a precocious sense of leadership and fearlessness for footy from a young age, midfielder Jack seemed destined to join the Dees in 2013 given his father Todd’s career-long connection with the club, and he soon ascended to club captaincy during the 2017–2019 seasons before passing the baton to Max Gawn.

From his very first season, Jack has claimed a slew of high-profile nominations and awards including a NAB Rising Star nomination and the Harold Ball Trophy for Best Young Player in 2013, to winning the Demons’ Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Memorial Trophy in 2016 for Best and Fairest. This year, Jack and his team-mates shared in the league’s McClelland Trophy for best-performing club after they defeated the Western Bulldogs in spectacular fashion in the 2021 Grand Final – the club’s first premiership in 57 years. 

As Melbourne prepares to once again face the Bulldogs for the much-anticipated pre-season Grand Final rematch next year, Jack said he and his team-mates are training hard to bring their all to round one.

‘This is a fiercely competitive competition… so any team on any given day can beat the next,’ Jack told The Age this week. ‘We have to keep evolving and looking for ways to improve.’

Spoken like a true champion – congratulations Jack on bringing home the trophy for the Dees this year, and we are eagerly awaiting the 2022 season!


Paralympics-Nathan-Pellissier-blog-bannerNathan Pellissier is Sportsperson of the Year – Disability

Congratulations to Nathan Pellissier, our Sportsperson of the Year – Disability Award winner!

Currently studying his Master of Professional Accounting and Finance while he works part-time at a Law Chambers, Nathan has had a momentous year marked by a significant career highlight. Debuting at his first Paralympic Games in Tokyo back in August, Nathan and teammates Lin Ma and Joel Coughlan won their first Paralympic silver medal in their fierce match against China in the Men’s Team Class 9–10 Round of 16 events.

Prior to his success at the Games, Nathan pushed through several medical procedures to manage his cerebral palsy and claimed gold medals at three major international championships in 2017, including the Korean Para Open and the Taiwan Para Open. In 2018, while he was living and training in Munich, Germany, Nathan won bronze medals at both the Spanish Para Open and US Para Open while steadily keeping his goal of Tokyo front of mind. 

‘I was trying to qualify for the Paralympics since 2012,’ recalled Nathan in July this year as he prepared for the Tokyo Games. ‘It’s taken a while.’

We couldn’t be prouder of Nathan for exceeding his long-held Paralympic dreams through sheer resilience, hard work and finely-tuned technique – congratulations on your first Paralympic medal, Nathan!


AFL footballer Alex PearceAlex Pearce is Sportsperson of the Year – Indigenous

Congratulations to AFL footballer Alex Pearce, recipient of our Sportsperson of the Year – Indigenous Award!

Originally hailing from Tasmania, Alex made his AFL debut with the Fremantle Dockers in 2015 and quickly established a reputation as an incredible talent. However, since sustaining a broken leg that season, key defender Alex has had a rough few years in which he has been periodically sidelined from the ground due to injury complications. Despite a stellar start to the 2019 season, in which Alex was slated a firm favourite for the All-Australian team, he found himself once again battling leg injuries this year following his on-field resumption.

Alex, who is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), has maintained a stance of transparency and generosity in shedding light on how the impact of persistent injuries has affected not only his career but his mental health.

‘I really started to struggle and lose a bit of identity from not playing for so long, and not being able to train, that isolation… [I] started to suffer depression for a little while,’ Alex told WA Today this year. ‘I guess that’s where my journey began to be more conscious of my own mental health and those around me.’

Despite his challenges, Alex has admirably parlayed his experiences and hard-won wisdom into community-minded collaborations with local mental health organisations Fremantle Mind and Youth Focus and, in between finishing the year with a promising nine consecutive matches, has adopted assistant coaching and mentoring responsibilities.

Alex is also proud to acknowledge his familial connection to the Palawa tribe – suitably advocating for a Tasmanian-based AFL team – and is widely considered a strong role model for younger culturally-diverse players as one of the current 82 Indigenous players in the AFL (with 21 Indigenous women representing the AFLW).

Congratulations Alex on a remarkable year, and we wish you all the best for the 2022 season!

Are you an elite athlete studying at Deakin?

Elite athletes can face many demands in finding a balance between their studies and sporting commitments, and we understand the need to support student athletes to enable them to succeed in both areas.

You may also be experiencing changed and complex circumstances due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that may potentially impact your studies. If you’ve got any questions about how the Elite Athlete Program (EAP) could help you, please visit the EAP website or contact the Elite Sports Coordinator, Jack Duke, at [email protected].

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