It's been a time of transition and turnover for the Atlanta Kookaburras.
Season 2016 ended with the squad combining with Baton Rouge (Louisiana) at USAFL Nationals and finishing just out of the finals series. Their one loss was by 10 points in their opener to a skilled Des Moines (Iowa) side while learning to play together. They followed that with a win by 11 over perennial power Denver. Their third and final game was a resounding victory over Tulsa (Oklahoma), made more remarkable because they played the match after learning a clerical error would keep them from advancing.
A high point of 2016 was the club’s 100th win, coming on the road vs. the Nashville Kangaroos.
Mark Cannatelli played very well at Nationals and thus earned the Kookas’ 2016’s Best and Fairest, with Brett Hester placing second as well as earning his second consecutive Most Improved award. Sam Ridenhour took home Best Clubman, and Braden Medders, Ryan Downey, and Brian Gilliam also had fine seasons for Atlanta. There were also many compliments for new coach Brent Bacon.
Unfortunately life moves on and there is turnover every season. Mark Cannatelli earned his Ph.D., is now Dr. Cannatelli, and has begun a new career as an academic. Some of the regulars have made or are making trips to Australia, and Hester is returning from a hamstring injury suffered at Nationals.
The Kookas are off to a slow start in 2017 following losses to Nashville and to the North Carolina Tigers, but there is new enthusiasm and some new faces, so the future is still bright as the new players blend in.
Atlanta invites their Legends back home for a match on May 13, followed by a home game against Baton Rouge May 20.