League's 'Wonder Woman' recognised
It is rare to witness a two-minute standing ovation that draws tears in the eyes of many in an audience of almost 400.
Then again this is no ordinary recipient of such genuine outpouring of respect.
It’s a Gold Coast junior league volunteer who those around her call ‘Super Woman’.
Her name is Leanne Harris (left in our photograph), and she was yesterday awarded with the Gold Coast Rugby League volunteer of the award at the Titans’ annual Women in League lunch at the QT Hotel ballroom in Surfer’s Paradise.
Leanne (most around her club calls her ‘Lee’) has been battling cancer since 2013, but until this year when her illness slowed her down quite significantly, it has hardly stopped her.
She is the ‘everything woman’ at Ormeau Shearers, whose Titans ambassadors are David Shillington and Jeff Lynch, having taken on the role of team manager, secretary, first aid officer, strapper and fund-raiser – often all at the same time.
Her love affair with the game and the club began when her and husband Slater’s son Malik was entered in the under-sixes team in 2012.
She took on the team manager’s role with Slater as the coach. The next year, after those around her saw how motivated and organised she was, and she became club secretary.
Illness saw her have to stand down as secretary but she refused not to contribute and remained as team manager, then did a sports training course and a level 1 then level 2 first aid courses.
So impressive was she, the Gold Coast league asked her to join their sports trainers’ panel. And the senior teams asked her to be their strapper, which she continues to do.
When Leanne realised some families were struggling to pay registration fees, she organised a twice a week barbeque after training with funds helping those families. The came the annual pink socks days, where all players wear them all wear them and proceeds go to McGrath Foundation.
“She’s an amazing person, such a good heart,” said Shearers club secretary Debbie Coulter.
‘Lee would do anything for anyone one; she’s just so highly motivated, nothing is too much trouble and she hasn’t stop, even through her illness.
“Even in the past year when she was in a lot of pain, she was still strapping our seniors and doing first aid all day helping with fund raising.
“I call her Superwoman, she certainly is amazing, just inspirational in that all she wants to do is contribute.
“She doesn’t give up and doesn’t let anyone down. She always stays positive and upbeat and gets in and gets what has to be done.”
When the applause died down and host Jim Wilson asked Leanne to respond yesterday, her humility also shone through too.
All she wanted to do was praise others.
“We have so many great people and they just want you to be part of a family at the club … you can’t say no,” she said.
“There’s our secretary who wants you to help her out, she’s fantastic … all the other women in our club are great, such a family of friends. You can’t help loving them and wanting to do more for them and the club.”
And all because Malik chose rugby league.
“I have one son and he just loves it and being part of a club lets me be more a part of his life a bit more too.”
Asked how much she loves rugby league, Lee replied: “A lot.”
Well, rugby league loves her back even more.
Her recognition could not be more worthy.