Despite having never been to Perth, Steph Gorman wanted a fresh start for her first full season playing NBL1 basketball after college and when the Cockburn Cougars came calling, there was nowhere else the emerging guard wanted to be.
On the back of her college career at the University of San Diego, Gorman returned home to Australia last season and having grown up in Wodonga and having previously played with Albury-Wodonga, it was at the Ballarat Miners she played for the rest of the NBL1 South season.
However, it was time to think about the next step in her career in 2023 with Gorman wanting to take strides to becoming a professional basketballer with the ultimate goal of getting to the WNBL.
Gorman wanted to play at an environment to give her the best chance to both be part of team success and to continue her own growth and development, and that’s why the Cougars sounded impossible to ignore for her.
She will now team up in a backcourt at the Cougars alongside Jewel Williams on a team that looks to build on a fourth place finish last season to continue their path upwards in 2023.
GETTING TO PERTH
When Gorman was weighing up her future for 2023, the fact that she’d never been to Western Australia didn’t deter her from the attraction of joining the Cougars.
After all she’d already gone from growing up in Wodonga to living in both Utah and San Diego for college, so moving to Perth was nothing compared with that.
“I actually hadn’t ever been to Perth but I had heard such good things and I always wanted to come out here,” Gorman said.
“I do love the beach too so that’s very appealing obviously. Tyrone (Thwaites) just explained it all to me and it sounded the great with the way the program was set up so well. It had a good structure in the club and it just sounded like a great place to be with a good sense of community as well.”
READY FOR SEASON OPENER
Now that the pre-season work is done, Gorman can’t wait to make her Cougars debut this Saturday night against the Willetton Tigers at Wally Hagan Stadium.
“We’re so close now and I’m super excited. I’m excited to get out on the court and I feel like we’ve been preparing for this for a while now so I’m excited for the season to start now,” she said.
“It’s definitely going to be a good way to start and it will give us a chance to show what we’ve been doing in the off-season. It’s a good challenge and I think it will be a fun game.”
WHAT THIS COUGARS TEAM CAN DO
Gorman now joins a Cougars team in 2023 ready to continue to put themselves in the championship mix on the back of a fourth place finish and heartbreaking semi-final exit last year at the hands of Willetton.
Not only is Gorman on board for Cockburn this season, but so is Danish import Sarah Mortensen and German gun Patty Brossmann will join mid-season once her campaign in Italy finishes.
With Jessie Edwards fresh off a WNBL season with the Perth Lynx, Jewel Williams ready to only continue to grow and the leadership of Kirsty Whitfield and plenty of young talent coming through, and it’s easy to see why Gorman likes the team’s prospects.
“I feel really lucky to be here at this time with this team. They’ve all put in a lot of work to get to this point so I definitely don’t want to let them down and help them take the next step,” Gorman said.
“Jewel’s great with the ball obviously and it’s really fun playing with her even so far just in practice. Jessie’s great with what she does and who can stop her you know, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
“Sarah has already been great since she’s been here and then obviously you have KP who has all that experience and is really fun to have on your team.
“Then with the youth coming through too, it’s just a great group to be part of. It’s a really fun environment to be in and we’ve set ourselves up for success here so I hope to be part of that.”
COLLEGE EXPERIENCE, DECIDING FUTURE
Gorman spent four years in college firstly for two years at Utah State and then San Diego, and across those four years her numbers were impressive with 9.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals a game.
Gorman also shot the three ball at 34.6 per cent throughout her college career and went at 80.1 per cent from the foul line, and in both her seasons with San Diego, she was recognised for her play with the Toreros with WCC All-American honourable mentions.
She enjoyed that four years of college life and then when deciding her future in 2023, it was all about weighing up what as going to be best for her to be in the best environment to achieve her dreams.
“College was a great experience. It was very challenging at the same time, but I think that’s what makes it so good. I learned a lot definitely off the court as well as on the court and it was a good experience all round,” Gorman said.
“I think I was more excited than anything about the move especially with it still being in Australia so I wasn’t too worried about anything. It’s a great place to be so I wasn’t worried about the fact I had never been there before at all.
“I think Tyrone’s offer definitely stood out more than anyone else’s that I did receive. Obviously I did have a few other clubs interested but I couldn’t go past the Cougars and I couldn’t be happier to be here.”
GOALS FOR SEASON, MOVING FORWARD
Above all, Gorman wants to help the Cougars make history in 2023 by winning a first women’s championship but in terms of personal goals, if she can play well enough to attract some WNBL interest she certainly won’t mind that.
“I think obviously the first answer always has to be a championship and that’s definitely what we’re going for and that’s what I want most from this season,” Gorman said.
“But as well as that is my individual development and the Cougars have some great coaches intertwined with the program. I’m very excited to learn from them and to try to improve my game as much as I can.
“Wanting to get to the WNBL is something that’s in the back of my mind but it’s not pressing. I’m just trying to focus on this season for now and be as good as I can, and then that will be there if I do well so I can’t think about it too much. It’s definitely there but I’ll just focus on this season first.”