Heartfelt support for former Magic netball chief executive Sheryl Dawson continues to flow in the wake of her being overlooked for the role in the newly revamped Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone.
Netball Rotorua secretary Mary Thompson summed up the general feeling in an email she sent to the Bay of Plenty Times on Friday.
"As one of Netball Bay of Plenty's largest centres, Netball Rotorua were astounded and totally disappointed to hear that Sheryl Dawson has been overlooked as CEO of our new zone,'' said Thompson.
"Netball Rotorua has benefited greatly from the job Sheryl has done in our centre from grassroots to professional netball, both business and volunteer based. No one could offer better leadership, loyalty and passion for our sport and her departure from the zone will be a huge loss.''
Similar sentiments were expressed by Kim Wilson from the Te Puke Netball Centre, who also made mention of the resignation from the Magic board of the two Tauranga members Shirley Baker and Paula Thompson because Mount Maunganui resident Dawson was shunned.
"Our committee was gutted at the process as we were told about it and obviously the result makes us feel very nervous about how we will be supported in the new zone,'' said Wilson.
"Multiple times this season our small but committed centre committee have needed help with all sorts of issues, both big and small, and we have been able to directly contact Sheryl with these issues and she is always able to help and does so with a huge wealth of regional knowledge and experience.
"As we have transitioned into [a] new zone, the feeling here is that we will lose contact with those that really know and care for our rural centre.
It is also telling that both our very capable and passionate elected representatives feel that their position on the zone board is untenable and have, therefore, felt it necessary to resign just mere weeks into the creation of it.''
It is obvious that Dawson was a much-loved and respected figure in the smaller netball centres in particular, and the new Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone board, chaired by Hamilton sports lawyer John Wiltshire, has a big job on its hands to win back this hugely important grassroots support.
Jo Mayston from Katikati has worked on the Netball BOP board with Dawson for many years and is dumbfounded by her missing out on the top job after her outstanding 10 years of service to the Magic.
"I feel the knowledge and confidence I have gained from being under her wing is absolutely priceless,'' said Mayston.
"I have been lucky to witness the huge number of girls Sheryl has personally mentored, assisted and encouraged, with them growing into successful and proud young women.
"Having played sport all my life, I have never seen this passion come from any code. Sheryl is classed as `the mother of netball',this has been testament with her success of the Netball BOP staff, teams, umpires, managers, volunteers and of course the Magic team.
"Sheryl is so hugely respected and loved by the larger family within netball, and the game has been her whole life.
"I feel so blessed to have been able to have been a part of it,'' she said.
Wiltshire could not be reached for comment.
As the Bay of Plenty Times went to print, we still had not been able to contact Dawson following her return from an overseas holiday.