Severn Stars have announced the latest four names to their 12-player roster with Sophie Carter and Becky Oatley joining two home-grown players for next season.
Stars are one of three new franchises for the new 10-team Vitality Superleague season, a joint project between the University of Gloucestershire and the University of Worcester that was announced by England Netball in June.
Last month Eleanor Cardwell, Jodie Gibson and Laura Malcolm were announced as the first players for 2017 and the franchise have now confirmed Carter’s arrival from Hertfordshire Mavericks and Oatley’s arrival from Celtic Dragons, much to the delighted of director of netball Pamela Cookey.
“Sophie is a young, intelligent mid-courter itching to show what she can do. Becky Oatley was sharp with good game sense at Dragons last season,” she said.
I’m very excited with how the team is shaping up. Our 4 new signings bring creativity and added dynamism to the squad. I look forward to seeing it transferred into the Superleague setting and all flourish further under Mo’onia.
Pamela Cookey, Severn Stars Director of Netball
Joining the two experienced Superleague players are local talents Lauren Brooks and Rebecca Tildesley.
Mid-courter Carter joins from Hertfordshire where she was part of the Mavericks squad that reached the Superleague semi-finals last year.
The 21-year-old is relishing her move to the Stars and working alongside Cookey and Australian head coach Mo’onia Gerrard.
“I’m very excited about the prospect of playing for Severn Stars this season,” she said.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a brand new franchise where we have the chance to build the culture from scratch.
“I can’t wait to work alongside and learn from the players around me. I know the coaching team will be able to challenge me and help me to develop as player and I’m looking forward to what promises to be an exciting season.”
Also arriving is former Celtic Dragons goal defence Oatley, who adds experience and versatility in the defensive area.
“I’m delighted to be joining Severn Stars – the coaching set-up, environment and ethos they are creating is really exciting. I’m really proud and humbled to be a part of it,” she said.
“t’s an honour and a privilege to be part of a brand new franchise that I’m sure is going to make history for many years to come.
“I can’t wait to get started and be a small part of that history.”
As well as Carter and Oatley, the Stars have underlined their commitment to bringing through local talent with Gloucester-born and based Brooks added to the roster and Worcester-based Rebecca Tildsley becoming an eighth member of the line-up for next season.
Stars head coach Gerrard welcomed all four additions to the squad, with the added focus on Tildesley and Brooks: “It has always been a priority of mine to include local talent in our squad and Lauren Brooks, following two years out due to injury, showed great prowess and has a great future ahead of her.
“Rebecca Tildesley is also a local player, and at only 20, shows great confidence for her age. In addition to this with have added Becky Oatley who, having experienced the Superleague competition with the Dragons will give the team an edge and I like that she is a ‘gutsy’ player.
“Sophie Carter, who joins us from Mavericks, is also a strong player who has huge potential to continue developing.”
Cookey is delighted with the focus on youth: “We have our two local girls Becky Tildesley and Lauren Brooks. Becky is showing something special in that shooting circle and Lauren has great vision in the mid court.
The experience from the two previous Superleague players alongside our two young home grown talent is developing our team into an exciting prospect.
Mo’onia Gerrard, Severn Stars head coach
Stars franchise director Anita Navin told Sportsclubsociety earlier this summer about the plans for a local identity to the squad: “I really want to make sure we don’t just bring players to the area. We want to grow the young talent and there is a pretty good base of 17/18 year-old players in the area.
“We have committed to saying we will use imports if we need them but initially we want to know what players are coming to us from England and who can play for their country – whether they are U19, U21.
“Then we can see where the gaps are and see if we need imported players. We are determined to make a good squad environment with a blend of experience and youth.”
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