Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters have lost their rising young star Georgia Gayle.
The Great Britain international, who captained GB Under-20 in the European Championships in Isreal this summer, is a true member of the Hatters family.
Her grandmother is club legend and founder Betty Codona, her father former Sheffield Sharks star Garnet Gayle, her mum is former Hatters and England played Lorraine Gayle along with her aunt, Hatters and former GB coach Vanessa Ellis. Mum Lorraine is Hatters treasurer and used to coach Georgia at U14 and U18.
But now Georgia has moved across the Atlantic to continue her academic and basketball careers at Junior College in Florida.
Her Hatters place will be taken by a player who has made the opposite journey to Gayle. Guard Jen Ashton will make her WBBL debut during the new season which starts on September 30 at home to Durham Palatinates (4pm).
Ashton, who has dual nationality having moved to America at the age of five from her birthplace Blackpool, has ambitions to play for HB.
She is a former star of Westfield State, where she was a standout player. A great free-throw shooter and creative force, she left College with her name in the record books after scoring over 1500 points at Westfield - a second on the all-time leaders list at the school.
She has a coaches’ basketball brain, was an assistant play-caller at Beverly High and assistant coach at American International College in Springfield.
“I wound up on the all-time scoring in second place by just one basket, but even in high school shooting was not my first priority. Anyone will tell you I pass too much. It’s nice to get back to playing again. I expect to have more of a point guard role and passing will be my first responsibility; to get the ball up court and set up somebody.”
I’m looking forward to the challenge,” added Ashton, who will link up with Great Britain’s Helen Naylor, who re-signed for Hatters last month.”
* Hatters’ Jessica Southwell has been selected for the England U17 squad. She said: “I’m really pleased to make the England squad again and am determined to work hard and see where this opportunity takes me. This wouldn’t have been possible without the endless support from Hatters.”
After playing for the club’s Division 2 team last last year, Jessica, and two other U18s players Brigha Allen and Millie Oates, will be joining the WBBL training sessions to help them with their development. They will be following the pathway taken by Gayle, Ellis Clayton and Naylor.