What Katie Howard fits into a day, the rest of us might accomplish in a week.
The ‘Mrs Fix-It’ for the Wagga Brothers is the NSWRL’s Regional Volunteer of the Year Award Winner for the Bidgee Region.
She’s also one of the many women who make Rugby League go around as the game moves this week to acknowledge their tireless contribution through the Harvey Norman Women in League Round.
Katie is club secretary, social media co-ordinator, merchandise-uniform officer, canteen manager and League Tag co-ordinator.
But that’s just some of her volunteer roles. She also owns and operates a number of childcare centres in the Wagga Wagga region and has three teenage children.
“They say if you give a busy person a job they’ll do it – so that’s what I do,” Katie said.
She rises at 5.30am each day to fit it all in but has no problem at all with the long hours.
“I just love doing it all – every minute of it.”
Katie was drawn into helping both the senior and junior ranks at Wagga Brothers by husband Ben, who was the coach of the Under 18s, then manager of the first-grade side.
“So, I started making fruit platters for the first graders for half-time, helped in the canteen, took the jumpers home and washed them for my son’s side, and it all grew from there,” she said.
Ben became Wagga Brothers president seven years ago, so Katie took on the roles of club secretary, registrar, League Tag coordinator and is a Level 1 sports trainer as well.
She was the ‘go-to’ person for several clubs in the district during the COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, keeping everyone informed and up to date with what was required.
“Katie's leadership in navigating the club through the difficult COVID period was exceptional and allowed so many kids the opportunity to continue to enjoy playing our game,” Group 9 Operations Manager Bob Hay said.
For Katie, it’s the pure joy of seeing her children and their teammates with smiles on the faces whenever Rugby League is mentioned. Her son started playing at age four, while one of her daughters started at 10.
“It’s seeing the kids make life-long friendships and really enjoy their sport,” she said.
“I look at my son and he’s 18 but the kids he started with in Under 6s are still his mates – and he doesn’t go to school with them but they’re still his best mates.
“It’s the same with my daughter, who’s 15. It’s so great for everyone’s mental health as well to play footy and have that camaraderie around them.
“It’s not necessarily all about winning; it’s about those close friendships that last a lifetime.”
Hay said Katie’s voluntary service not only allowed the club to continue to thrive, but her welcoming and supportive nature attracted other volunteers.
“Katie remains focused (and keeps us all focused) on the primary objective of providing a happy, healthy and safe environment for all the kids playing the game, to simply enjoy rugby league,” he said.