Cockburn Cougars West Coast Classic Most Valuable Player’s Jodee Sontay and Gavin Field are fit and raring to go for the inaugural NBL1 season.
Sontay and Field captained both the women’s and men’s program respectively, leading by example as they took out the Cougars MVP award at season’s end.
Field lead the men with averages of 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Sontay lead the women with 8 points and 6 rebounds per game. Together, the leaders have played more than 550 games at the top-tier of basketball in the state, with Field ready to return after a disruptive 2020.
“Getting back to a full competition will be great,” Field said.
“I really enjoy going up against a new bunch of imports each year and learning how to play against them – it will give a point of difference to how the league was this year.
“Also getting to watch our young guys continue to improve and become regular contributors after getting their shot this year is something that’ll be fun to watch in 2021.”
This year also proved to be big off the floor for Field, with the birth of daughter Iris in January providing a new perspective to his time in basketball.
“One thing I have tried to take out of being a Dad is to enjoy the time I have at basketball,” he said.
“Life has become so busy with work and spending time with Iris there isn’t much time for yourself, so basketball lets me really be in the moment doing something I’ve done my whole life.
“It’s also taught me a lot about managing my time to the minute so I can spend as much time at home with Iris as possible.”
After playing more than 200 games at the highest level, spending four years at College, time as a Wildcats development player, multiple league runner-up MVP’s and some Cougar championships – there isn’t much Field hasn’t achieved in his time in the league.
“I don’t really care for the individual accolades, I just want team success and to keep pushing into the playoffs and a shot at another championship.
“With such a young group, nothing would be more exciting than to do that with the guys that we have.
“We have a real opportunity to teach the younger athletes to have confidence and believe in themselves, as well as the belief us senior guys have in them, so they know exactly what is contribution is required for team success.
“They know that I have confidence in them to back in their ability and they’re all working very hard with the coaches to hit their weaknesses as hard as they can.
“There is no doubt with this group we expect ups and downs – consistency is the biggest challenge – but our best is great and our worst is only getting better.”
Cockburn basketball chief executive Tyrone Thwaites said that Field is the epitome of what it means to be a Cougar.
“He just defines what we love about our home,” he said.
“Bobby (Field) is argubly, and I’ll be the first to make the case, one of our all-time greats alongside the Al Erickson and Troy Clarke’s of our family.
“But it’s the maturity and unwavering loyalty and commitment to our family – through good and bad times – is what we love the most about Bob.
“We truly are lucky to be witnessing a Cougar who is a once in a generation athlete – we couldn’t be prouder for him to continue leading the young group of men into 2021.”
Jodee Sontay had a breakout offensive season in 2020 (if you can say that for a 15-year veteran), but if you ask her team mates and coaches, they’ll tell you that’s just Sontay going about her business.
“She plays like she has the body of a 25 year old,” head coach Tyrone Thwaites said.
“Her preparation across all 12 months, her attention to detail and desire to be better could never be called into question – having Sontay back for one more season is the biggest win of our off-season.
“We gave her the time to really process what she wanted to do, she knew our position, but had to figure out if she had the drive to go one more year.
“The amazing thing about Sontay is her selflessness, and with a couple of other clubs chasing her for 2021 while we gave her time to make a call, she was always coming back to Cockburn and we couldn’t be prouder she gets to finish her career as a Cougar.”
“A big part of my decision making process when agreeing to play one final year was navigating the time commitent part,” Sontay said.
“But finishing a season that was so heavily impacted by Covid really isn’t the fairytale ending you dream about.
“To make the decision for one more year will make me appreciate every bit of this year knowing it’s my last and to not taking anything for granted.
“With the new additions to our group I’m really excited that every team we play will need to be at their best to beat us.”
Cockburn has been home since the start of 2019 for Sontay, and there is a connection to the club that made the decision all the more worthwhile.
“I’ve loved getting to know my team mates and people at the club,” she said.
“Cockburn have such a wonderful family culture that we pride ourselves on and I am proud I can have an impact on that.
“We only want to build on that for the next 12 months, and show the younger members of our squad what hard work looks like on and off the court, as well as understanding their role in the team.
“I hope they will understand how important each and every one of them is to the team and that working hard is the only way to be better and achieve their goals.
“I believe I’m a strong leader, and I would love nothing more than to help inspire the next generation of women at our club.”