Senior Women ‘Next Generation’ Prepare for Season
While Ipswich Basketball Club enter the 2021/22 season as back-to-back National League Division One Champions, as well as WNBL D1 Playoff Champions from last season, the team will have a very different feel this season.
Such was the success of the team over the last four seasons that only one player from the National Cup Winning team from 2018 remains, with almost everyone moving on to either play at College in America or professionally. Cameron Taylor-Willis inherits the mantle of the teams most accomplished and experienced player as the eighteen-year-old takes over from Harriet Welham, as the team’s captain, while Welham spends the season playing professionally in France. Other departures from last season include Esther Little, Ella Pearson, Danni Cazey and Charlotte Redhead, who were all major contributors for the team. However, as Head Coach Nick Drane prepares his new-look squad for the 21/22 campaign, he is quick to point out that this new group is eager to take on the challenge of keeping the clubs reputation and tradition of success at a high level “We are not trying to replace anyone who has left, this is about finding and developing the next generation of great Ipswich players and the likes of Susannah, Saruna, Hannah, Millie and Alice are more than equipped to take the club forward”.
Despite wholesale changes from last season, youngsters Susannah Rafiu, Saruna Gudza, Alice Fallon, Hannah Gray and Millie Pearson were all part of that championship winning squad, and all made huge contributions to the team’s success. Throw in the quality of GB International Cameron Taylor-Willis, and new recruit Yassin Belle-Mbaye and the team is expected to still be very competitive. Coach Drane has also recruited top GB Junior prospect Olivia Forster, who Ipswich know well from her days playing for Manchester (Olivia was named MVP of the u14 National Championship game when Mystics downed Ipswich in the final in 2019) and the club are also closing in on the signing of sharp shooting American guard Ava Battese, who they hope to have available for the first game of the season.
On the sidelines, Drane has also made another key signing, bringing in club legend Amy Linton as an assistant coach, to join Josh Carson (assistant) and Team Manager Richard Liddamore as Rob Schatten moves back to the work with the men’s team and Ollie Miall takes his coaching credentials to Worcester Wolves, where he will work with their National League team while studying for his degree.
Ipswich have a record of 34-4 in National League play since the start of the 2019/2020 season, and are the reigning WNBL Division One league and playoff champions. The club is also the u18 National Cup holders, while our Copleston based academy are also the co-champions of the u19 WEABL, u19 3x3 champions and u17 English Schools National Champions.
Big shoes to fill for this ‘next generation’ but a huge opportunity to continue the tradition of this great club.
Ipswich begin their season on Saturday the 2nd October as they host Thames Valley at Copleston Centre, with a 3:30pm tip-off. HQ is now allowed to have spectators again, so we are all hoping to get the famous ‘blue army’ back in fine form to start the season.