New professional netball club, Severn Stars, has looked to local talent as it prepares for its debut season.
Severn Stars, a joint team run by the University of Gloucestershire and University of Worcester in the Vitality Netball Superleague, has signed up a player from Gloucester and one from Worcester.
Lauren Brooks, from Brockworth, Gloucester and Rebecca Tildesley studying at Worcester, join recent Superleague signings Becky Oatley and Sophie Carter alongside England trio Eleanor Cardwell, Jodie Gibson and Laura Malcolm.
Lauren, 22, from Brockworth, has played for the England under-17s and under-19s and the University of Bath BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) 1st team in 2012/2013.
She is returning to netball after two years away with a back injury.
Mid-court player Lauren said: “I'm absolutely delighted. As a local player it's an honour to be a part of this brand new franchise. I have been coached by many good coaches over the years and moving forwards I am really looking forward to seeing the influence Mo'onia will have on the Severn Stars and me as an individual. I feel very fortunate to be making a comeback and privileged to be a part of Severn Stars where I can train and play at this level.”
She said she hoped that Severn Stars would raise netball standards and its popularity in the area.
Rebecca, 20, lives at home in Tipton, near Dudley, but for the last two years lived in Worcester while continuing her BSc Sports Therapy degree studies. She was a training partner for Loughborough Lightning and has played for the England under 17 and under 21 teams and Staffordshire County.
Rebecca said: “I am so delighted to have been picked for Seven Stars. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm excited to be a part of the family and the experience that lies ahead. I cannot wait to improve as a player and learn from the best. It's amazing that we finally have a Superleague franchise right on our doorstep, it opens up new experiences for a netballer,” she added.
Head coach Mo'onia Gerrard said: “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.”
University of Gloucestershire Director of Netball, Pamela Cookey, said: “Becky is showing something special in that shooting circle and Lauren has great vision in the mid court. I look forward to seeing it transferred into the Superleague setting and all flourish further under Mo'onia.”