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Gorman excited to be back after living WNBL dream

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It’s been quite the ride for Steph Gorman since arriving in Western Australia and she couldn’t be more excited to be back with the Cockburn Cougars to defend their NBL1 West championship on the back of her rookie WNBL season.

Going back 18 months and Gorman was somewhat at the crossroads with her basketball and wasn’t sure where it was going to take her. But fast forward and she has had the ride of her life since making the move west.

It all started when she joined the Cougars for the 2023 season and by the end of it she was instrumental in Cockburn winning a first ever women’s championship while she was Grand Final MVP and the league’s Best Defensive Player.

That led into Gorman playing her first season in the WNBL at the Perth Lynx and she became a key member of the team that made it all the way to the Grand Final where her defensive and shooting abilities held up impressively at the top level.

Gorman is now back at the Cougars for the 2024 NBL1 West season and she’s put up 22.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 already in her first two games in wins against the Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Mandurah Magic.

The Cougars are now 4-0 to start the season before this Saturday’s road trip to the also unbeaten Rockingham Flames and Gorman couldn’t be happier with how things are looking back for a second season so far.

“It is good to be back. I love being at Cockburn so it’s always fun getting back there and being able to play a few games – I’m glad that I was able to come back for a second season,” Gorman said.

“I think the first couple of games have gone pretty well. It has been nice being able to slot right back into the team with really good players around me. That’s made it so much easier and it’s been fun again so far.”

While the full Cougars backcourt featuring Gorman, Jewel Williams, Alex Ciabattoni, Amelia Corasaniti, Jaya Scafidi and Kinley Paterson hasn’t had a chance to play together yet this season, it has the ability of being a standout combination.

Gorman loves the prospect of what they can all do together and is excited that this Saturday against Rockingham looks likely to be the first time all six of them will be out there together.

“It is very exciting thinking about the back court we’ll have when we are all able to play together for the first time,” she said.

“We are very lucky to have us all together, and to work with each other, it’s going to be fun for everyone to watch and exciting for us to play. It’s exciting for everyone what we should be able to do together.”

Gorman has spent plenty of time with Ciabattoni over the past eight months with them being teammates together at the Lynx so she did what she could to get her on board at the Cougars, and couldn’t be happier it’s come together.

“I was pretty excited when Chibba signed,” Gorman said.

“I had heard that she was thinking about it and I tried my best to convince her to sign on pretty quickly.

“But I love playing with Chib, she has an insanely high IQ so she’s a really fun player to play with and a great person too so I love having her around.”

Gorman and Ciabattoni both come into the season at the Cougars fresh off being part of the Lynx making a stunning run all the way to the WNBL Grand Final and then taking the one-nil series lead against Lauren Jackson and the Southside Flyers.

It ended up in heartbreaking fashion with the Game 2 loss at the buzzer at home and then losing the decider back in Melbourne, but it was an incredible achievement to be in that position and Gorman is trying to shake off the pain of being so close to glory.

“It is just heartbreaking to get so close and really there’s nothing you can do about it once it’s done. It’s really tough to move on from but you have to find a way, it’s just part of playing basketball,” she said.

“It sucks a lot but it’s what we’ve had to do and have to deal with it the best we can. You just have to lick your wounds and try to bounce back the best you can and put it behind you but you never forget something like that.”

While the championship didn’t quite come the way of the Lynx, just for Gorman to not only be playing a first WNBL season but to have such a key role on the team was all her dreams come true.

There was a lot of unknowns once she first arrived in Perth ahead of the 2023 NBL1 West season, but now how well everything went with the Cougars and then tied into her season at the Lynx.

She is still pinching herself with how well things have gone.

“I was so happy with how the season went really considering it was my first time in the WNBL,” Gorman said.

“Going into it, the way it turned out was pretty much the best case scenario when you think about it so to have the season like that is everything you hope for and what you work towards.

“I just feel lucky to have had that opportunity and grateful to have been there, and get to play so much and experience everything that goes with that. It was really good overall. I’m really excited to now hopefully get a chance to find out what the second year will be like.”

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