The return of Thoroughbred women a sign of the future

There’s more than just the normal excitement at Melton Basketball Association heading into the Big V season.

While all clubs in Round One were ready to take to the court and show what they can do, the Thoroughbreds were busy celebrating the return of having a women’s side.

The club has been without a women’s side since playing in Division Two in 2010, when the team folded due to a lack of numbers.

Lauren Olcorn was a part of that team. She captained the team to their only championship, the Division Three title in 2008. She’s been part of a group of former players pushing to get the team up and running again.

“It’s been eight or nine years since we’ve had a team,” she said.

“There’s been talk among the players for the last four to five years about getting the team going. It never got off the ground, but now we’ve got a few more players and the support from the committee and the club.”

The driving force behind getting the team up and going, Olcorn put her hand up to coach the team and was named the successful candidate in October last year. She had previously coached juniors at Melton and was an assistant coach with Big V club Collingwood All Stars last year.

“I’m very proud they’ve put faith in me to do the job,” Olcorn said.

“I’ve played Big V since I was 14 and I’ve been at a few other clubs. I was very surprised to get the role, but was excited to accept it. You love playing at home and you go to other clubs, but they’re never really home.”

Olcorn said there had been a lot of support already from supporters who are keen to see the side succeed. She said there was a buzz that there was again a pathway for the girls playing basketball in Melton.

Olcorn will combine coaching with playing, to add a bit more experience to a young side. She’ll be joined on court by a couple of other players from the Thoroughbreds championship side. Channy Paris-Webb returns and will be co-captain, while Gabby Eaton is also returning. Eaton’s sister Natelee Eaton who also previously played for the club, will again suit up for Thoroughbreds, along with Jenna and Lauren Conroy, who were part of the Thoroughbreds 2010 team. Jenna is co-captain alongside Paris-Webb.

The Thoroughbreds also looked to add some Melton juniors to the side.

Caitlyn Spence is stepping up along with Emily Attard and are expected to add speed and agility. Molly Young, who was part of Keilor Thunder’s Division One runners-up and Bec Marshall, who was part of the Sunbury Jets’ state championship squad and youth league girls division 2 championship has moved across as well. Amina Benjamin and Nyidier Riak are two rookies, who round out the side.

Olcorn said they were hoping this was only the start for the senior women’s program at Melton. A youth league women’s side is on the agenda in the next few years. In the mean time, they’ve started to establish a pathway between the junior and senior program.

“We’ve got development players training with us,” she said.

“They’re from juniors and we’ve developed some spots so they can work on their skills in readiness for the women’s team. We want to get more juniors coming through into the seniors. Hopefully we can have a youth league side in the next few years.”

Early signs have been positive for the Thoroughbreds, who have played a number of preseason matches ahead of season kick off on Saturday.

Olcorn said they had learnt a lot about themselves and what they need to do come the season proper. She said while they are a young side that hasn’t played together before, they have a lot of players who have come from winning teams.

“We haven’t had a full side in those games, so there’s been different dynamics in each game. We’ve come across some division 2 teams and have come close. We’ve played some youth league teams that have been fast and have showed us areas we can work on.

“It’s also highlighted the areas we do well. I have a lot of faith in the team.

“I think we’ll finish mid range and pushing for finals. We’ve looking forward to the season.”

Melton Basketball Association president Daniel Brady said there was excitement from everyone within the association about having a women’s side again.

“This past weekend we hosted our first ever triple header,” he said.

“We’ve got teams knocking down the door to play in the half time game during the women’s games.”

Brady, like Olcorn, is already looking at starting the work behind the scenes to get a youth league side up and going. He said the association was looking at accepting a new club,  and having a junior girls team was needed as part of that.

 “We want to get the youth league team up and going as soon as possible,” he said.

“There’s been no pathway and we want players to come back to the club instead of playing elsewhere.

“Emily Attard has had to play VJBL elsewhere. Once we’ve got one player back, we’re hoping we’ll start to get more.”

He was full of praise for Olcorn and the work she had done to get the team running. Brady said no matter the results this season, the team was already a winner.

“We will see results later in the year,” he said.

“This year is about the future. It’s about getting local players back to the club.”

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