DEX Sport year in review: January
Clarence kids on an A-League onslaught
More than 30 Clarence Valley junior soccer stars took to the Pacific Highway as they journeyed to Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium as part of the half time entertainment for a mid-season clash between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory.
An initiative brought about by Grafton United's Steven Smith and South Services Gunners' Shanon Tough the trip provided the first experience of walking onto the middle of an international quality stadium for a lot of the junior stars.
Tough said the opportunity came about through a series of phone calls between the local soccer nuts and the Roar management.
"(Smith) just rang up the Roar and told them we don't get many opportunities for our local kids to get involved in these initiatives and they said they would be more than happy to have us."
Illaroos beat the tide at Wooli
The Illaroo Crew took out the illustrious Division A title at the 2016 Minnie Water Wooli SLSC Volleyball Family Fun Day in early January.
The Illaroo team - made up predominantly of a group of campers on holiday from Nimbin - overcame tough competition on their way to the final against Cabin Crew.
It was a tough day for volleyball players but even tougher on the kids in the sandcastle competition with a few creations falling to the mercy of an abnormally high tide.
Pilley surges ten spots on world rankings
Yamba squash sensation Cameron Pilley returned to career best form in the December 2015 Hong Kong Open and continued that run into the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in New York when he continued a giant slaying run to knock off World No. 5 Tarek Mommen.
The Australian's early momentum at the Tournament of Champions was brought to a screeching halt in the second round by World No. 1 Mohamed ElShorbagy - but this would not prove to be the final battle between the two in 2016.
Pilley had climbed the ranks to be the closest to the top 10 he had been in almost five years after he jumped from 24 to 13 in the world in early January.
Surprise! Chard masters rare feat
It would come as no surprise to anybody in the Clarence River cricket community that ruthless Tucabia seamer Brad Chard is capable of a hattrick ... well anybody who isn't Brad Chard that is.
The express bowler managed the first hattrick of his career against a struggling Westlawn middle order but it was without much fanfare as the team converged to celebrate the third consecutive strike.
Chard's hattrick, consisting of snaring Ian O'Toole caught behind followed by the death rattle of Shaun Simpson and Eddie Gordon, kicked off five wickets in seven deliveries to demolish the Westlawn tail, all out for just 127.
While those around him celebrated, for the pace bowler, the hattrick came as a major relief.
"It's about time," the paceman said. "I've been on a few, but never got one."
'Bear' attacks Iluka batting card - all out for 9
If Chard's efforts came as a surprise to the Clarence cricket community, then the work of lower river counterpart Brandon Honeybrook was enough to send shockwaves.
An unbelievable new ball spell from Honeybrook and seam partner Adrian Boyd saw Iluka bowled out for just nine runs chasing Wanderers total of 136.
On what was a pacey Iluka Oval deck none of the batsmen had an answer for the inswinging accuracy of the man nicknamed 'Bear' who took 6 for 1 off 6.1 overs, while his outswinging accomplice Boyd took 4 for 7 off 6.
With Iluka all-out after 12.1 overs the pair finished with a combined nine maidens.
"It was a good deck," Honeybrook said after the match. "Probably the best deck I've played on all year. I got nice carry.
"It was just one of those days."
Clarence quartet head to nation's capital for championships
Four of the Valley's brightest female cricketers made the gruelling trip away to Canberra to represent their State at the Cricket Australia Under 18 Female National Championships.
Westlawn's Amy Riddell took over the captaincy of the Country NSW/ACT for the first time alongside fellow Clarence cricketers, sisters Naomi and Grace McDonald while Carly Leeson donned the sky blue of NSW Metro.
Riddell produced a record breaking bowling spell to help her team secure third spot at championships. The off spinner took 6 for 21 off 9 overs in the third versus fourth playoff against South Australia.
It was the most wickets in an innings by an ACT/NSW Country player at the tournament. As captain of the side she took 14 wickets at 9.57.
Sisters Naomi and Grace McDonald also shone for ACT/NSW Country, including an innings of 44 off 47 balls from Naomi and Grace scoring a top score of 20 as an opening batter.
Meanwhile Leeson played a major role for runners up NSW Metro, who lost its opening and final matches to Victoria in an otherwise unbeaten campaign.
Leeson top scored with 64 against ACT/NSW Country and took best figures of 4 for 12 against Tasmania.
Schmidt gives up the reins for the mic
In what was a major blow to country and metropolitan racing alike, apprentice jockey Priscilla Schmidt was forced to hand in her whip and hang up the spurs.
The jockey had only just come out of the form of her life being named the leading jockey of the 2014 Grafton July Racing Carnival before making a successful transition to metro racing in 2015.
However the rider had been plagued by injuries throughout her career and a nasty forearm break in early January was enough to force her to hand in her rider's license.
For father and Grafton trainer Dwayne Schmidt the news was welcomed with a slight sigh of relief.
"Over her career she has broken both legs, both ankles, broken ribs, a broken arm, broken wrist, ligaments in her knee - with everything it has just taken a toll on her," he said.
"After everything that has been done, this decision is a huge weight off my shoulders. As a father I worried about her every time she went out on track, so at least now I can rest easier."
Schmidt swapped her whip for a microphone as she pursued a career with Sky Racing's Thoroughbred Central coverage alongside fellow famed former jockey Gary Kliese.
Leave it to Cleaver at Bradman Cup
SOUTHS Services Premier League batsman Dylan Cleaver returned to the Clarence after a successful Bradman Cup tournament.
Cleaver captained his North Coastal side to two victories against Central Coast and Newcastle in their Pool A matches.
However the side was unfortunate to not make the tournament final due to a slower run rate than pool opponents Central Northern. Central Northern went on to claim victory in the final over Southern/ACT to lift the Cup.