The historic women’s basketball club, who were forced to sit out of last season due to the constraints of the coronavirus crisis, are back in the big time with GB assistant coach Vanessa Ellis in the driving seat as head coach after a successful year away coaching in Europe.
Ellis, the most capped player and coach of the GB side, led Austrian side UBI Graz to a league championship and makes her return in what is a milestone year for the Hatters.
“It’s great to be back at the club where it all started for me especially in our sixtieth year,” said Ellis, who led the club playoff and trophy success in her previous 11 years as head coach, a position she has held since taking over from her mother and Hatters’ founder Betty Codona OBE.
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“You can expect some familiar faces to be back but I’m also looking to bring in exciting young players who can make us competitive this season.”
Codona founded England’s first women’s basketball club in 1961 in Hatfield School, North Sheffield, and under her guidance became the most successful sports club in the city winning back-to-back titles throughout the 1990s.
Hatters have now won over 65 national titles, most recently the WBBL Cup in 2019, and will be hoping to build on that tally.
“Sixty years, how time flies,” said Codona. “They have been challenging, hard work, but full of wonderful people and experiences. It is important for the club, the city and for women’s basketball in general that we were in a position to compete in the WBBL again.”
The club’s return to the top flight has been celebrated outside of the city, including by the WBBL itself.
Jim Saker, WBBL Chairman, said: “Being the oldest and most successful team in women’s basketball, the loss of Sheffield last season was one that was felt not just across the WBBL but the whole British Basketball community.
“But their drive and determination off-court is every bit as remarkable as it is on-court and we’re thrilled they’re now in a position to be able to return to the court.”
“A pioneer of women’s basketball, their 60th anniversary is an extraordinary achievement, and their catalogue of accolades, alongside their stellar reputation for providing playing and coaching opportunities within their community, especially to young girls and women of all ages, speaks for itself and I wish to congratulate them on this extraordinary achievement.”
To celebrate their 60th year, the Hatters will also use a newly designed badge and have been busy fundraising in preparation for the season and are appealing to local businesses that may wish to support the club and the services they provide to the local community can email [email protected]
The Sheffield Hatters Crowdfunding page, which is offering rewards such as family season ticket for just £60, will launch this week.