Coming west to join the Cockburn Cougars is the best thing Steph Gorman has ever done to further her basketball career and that’s why she can’t wait to return in 2024 once her WNBL season at the Perth Lynx is done.
This time last year and Gorman wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do with her basketball and where her future lied as she weighed up some options to make a fresh start coming off an NBL1 South season with the Bendigo Braves.
Prior to that and Gorman had attended college at the University of San Diego before returning home to play with the Albury-Wodonga Bandits and then move to Ballarat in 2022.
What has ended up transpiring has been the year of her life and it’s all happened in a city she had never previously ever been to.
Gorman came to Perth for the first time to play in the NBL1 West season with the Cockburn Cougars and by the end of that season, she was instrumental in her team winning a first ever women’s championship and was named the league’s Best Defensive Player and voted Grand Final MVP.
She is now preparing to make her WNBL debut with the Lynx after coach Ryan Petrik was understandably impressed with what he saw from her at the Cougars.
Cockburn coach Tyrone Thwaites is delighted that Gorman is getting the chance to show what she can do in the WNBL and then can’t wait to have her back with the Cougars in 2024 for the NBL1 West championship defence.
“It’s been full circle for Steph and she’s built relationships at the club and that’s something we’re really excited to continue, and why we want her back. I have a great relationship with her and so do our assistant coaches – the whole team does,” Thwaites said.
“Having that continuity of someone of her calibre who can impact both ends of the floor, she’s only going to keep getting better and she’s a massive weapon for us. We’re very lucky to have her.”
After the outstanding season Gorman had with the Cougars in the 2023 NBL1 West season not only with what she produced on the court to be instrumental in the championship but the bond she had with her teammates, it was an easy choice for her to decide to return.
“It was such a good year and I definitely didn’t expect it to go as well as it did in every way,” Gorman said.
“We won games, the community at Cockburn is amazing and it was just such a fun group to be around so it wasn’t that hard of a decision to decide to want to come back.”
There’s no question that next season will be a new experience for everyone at the Cougars with them being the defending champions and having targets on their back.
However, Gorman is looking forward to that and knows that it only comes because of how good they were in 2023, but at the same time everyone at the Cougars will be looking to not only continue what they did last season, but build on it.
“I guess we will just have a bit more expectations now that we’ve tasted that success,” she said.
“The team before had done quite well and was hoping to have some success so there was some expectations to be up there, but we didn’t know we’d have the season we had.
“So we’ll have a bit more expectation on us from outside sources next year, but for us it’s about the same thing because we were successful for a reason last season.
“We just need to keep that attitude of always trying our hardest, making sure our work ethic is up there and just staying together as a team and unit. It’s all the same things we did last season that made us successful and we’ll try to implement that again.”
It’s remarkable to think that this time last year Gorman had never ever been to Perth and now all of a sudden she couldn’t imagine leaving.
She’s gone straight from the NBL1 season into WNBL pre-season and then will go directly from the season with the Lynx into the Cougars campaign in 2024.
Combine the basketball at both the Cougars and the Lynx, and the lifestyle she’s loving in Perth, and she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I actually love Perth. It kinda feels like home away from home for me now, and I just love everything about being here,” Gorman said.
“And what’s not to love, there’s the weather, the beaches, the people and it’s just a really nice place. I don’t want to leave any time soon so I’m definitely very happy here and deciding to take the chance to move here is the best thing I ever did.”