Donnell Wallam was the most positive note to come out of Netball Australia's night of nights, creating an award first amid a share of the Super Netball players opting to boycott the ceremony.
In the latest of an ongoing pay dispute between the domestic competition's playing group and the sport's governing body, Netball Australia reminded a number of its contracted players, just hours before the awards, they were lawfully obliged to attend what was a sombre affair.
Other players, whose contracts have lapsed since the end of the Super Netball season, decided to sit at home on Saturday after all who participated in the 2023 competition haven't been paid for eight weeks while negotiations to settle the dispute continue.
Wallam, who was contractually obliged to attend as a member of the Diamonds Test squad was another netballer forced to accept an award in person.
This is despite only last year intentionally signing a single-year deal for the 2023 season ahead of dialogue over Netball Australia's collective bargaining agreement, and at the moment no longer under contract with either the league or her Brisbane-based club.
The proud Noongar woman was named goal shooter for the Super Netball Team of the Year after scoring 669 goals in season 2023.
The honour not only drew praise and applause, but recognition to ensure that Wallam is the first Indigenous player to be named in the league's best seven on the court.
The former state-level basketballer until the end of the 2018 season only finished her second Super Netball season this year in undisputedly the world's best league.
The West Australian scored 669 goals at nearly 87 per cent from limited opportunities for the second-last placed Queensland Firebirds.
Wallam also collected the second-most offensive rebounds with 43 returns this year.
The first of just three Indigenous Australians to represent the Diamonds national side, Marcia Ella-Duncan admitted she has been "besotted" with Wallam's game since the 191cm scorer unconventionally leaped onto the scene out of nowhere.
"Donnell has certainly made a splash, didn't she?" Ella-Duncan said earlier in the year ahead of Netball Australia's awards.
"She is spontaneous, she can read the play, she can anticipate the play and she knows where to be in the right place.
"I think Donnell brings that to her game in a way that makes it wonderful to watch."
AUSTRALIAN NETBALL AWARD RECIPIENTS
Hall of Fame Legend – Jill McIntosh AM
Hall of Fame – Sue Kenny OAM and Pam Redmond
Joyce Brown Coach of the Year – Stacey Marinkovich (Australian Diamonds)
Lorna McConchie Umpire of the Year – Josh Bowring
Suncorp Super Netball Rookie of the Year – Lucy Austin (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Australian National Championships Player of the Year – Emily Andrew (Victorian Fury)
Fast5 Netball World Series Player of the Series – Matilda Garrett
Liz Ellis Diamond – Courtney Bruce
International Player of the Year - Courtney Bruce
Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year – Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
SUPER NETBALL TEAM OF THE YEAR
Goal shooter – Donnell Wallam (Queensland Firebirds)
Goal attack – Helen Housby (NSW Swift)
Wing attack – Paige Hadley (NSW Swifts)
Centre – Jamie-lee Price (GIANTS Netball)
Wing defence – Latanya Wilson (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Goal defence – Jodi-Ann Ward (Collingwood Magpies)
Goal keeper – Shamera Sterling (Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Attack reserve – Steph Wood (Sunshine Coast Lightning)
Midcourt reserve – Liz Watson (Melbourne Vixens)
Defence reserve – Courtney Bruce (West Coast Fever)