Jessie Edwards is nearing the end of her second season with the Cockburn Cougars and already feels such a part of the Cougar Family that it is like home to her making it an obvious decision to sign on for a further two NBL1 West seasons.
As Edwards prepares for a big finish to the 2022 NBL1 West season with the Cougars ahead of her WNBL return with the Perth Lynx for the 2022/23 campaign, she has signed on with Cockburn at least until the end of the 2024 season.
Edwards joined the Cougars ahead of the 2021 NBL1 West season having previously played in the league with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns starting as a 14-year-old.
She played with the Eastern Suns up until the end of 2015 while she also spent three years at the University of Minnesota along with playing with German club TSV Towers and spending 2019 in the now NBL1 East competition playing with the Albury-Wodonga Bandits.
She also got her first WNBL opportunity to hit the floor at the Adelaide Lightning for the 2019/20 season before returning home to Western Australia permanently to join the Perth Lynx where she was impressive in her minutes at the WNBL hub in Far North Queensland in late 2020.
On the back of that, she signed with the Cougars for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, and after a terrific 2021 campaign where she put up 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game, she’s gone up another gear again in 2022.
Edwards is averaging 18.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 2.0 assists a game so far this season with the Cougars on the back of shooting 56.4 per cent from the field and 81.8 per cent from the free-throw line.
Now as she prepares to lead Cockburn into the NBL1 West finals and then to head into the WNBL season with the Perth Lynx, she has signed on with the Cougars for a further two years.
Doing so was one of the easiest decisions she’s ever had to make on a number of fronts.
“I have been really enjoying my time at Cockburn both as a player and coaching some of the WABL players,” Edwards said.
“That’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed about the club too as a WABL coach because Cockburn provides a lot of opportunities for you to improve yourself as a player and coach.
“It’s been really good to feel that supported at Cockburn as a coach and player so it really was an easy decision to decide to stay.”
Going back to that decision to join the Cougars ahead of the 2021 season, Edwards looks back feeling like it’s the best choice she ever made in so many ways.
She might have spent plenty of time up the hill, but the Fremantle area was always more like home with her father a Sandover Medal winner at WAFL club South Fremantle.
Coming to Cockburn felt like a natural fit on a number of fronts, and that’s why she wants to stay.
“I’m really happy that I moved to Cockburn when I did. I know it’s our club’s tag line or whatever, but it really rings true that it feels like your family,” Edwards said.
“It feels like a real community there and I feel connected to all aspects of the club, and I really like that. I really like that and I think it’s just about having those relationships.
“I do WABL coaching with other players and coaches, and with the kids that I coach it’s nice to know so many people and have those interactions with them. I feel like I really belong already even though I’ve only been at the club for one and-a-half years.
“It honestly does feel like home already. The relationships with everyone there, it really does feel like a home and like I’ve been there for a lot longer than I really have.”
Cockburn Cougars and Chief Executive Tyrone Thwaites agrees, expressing Edwards is part of the furniture.
“Jess is right, it has only been 18 months, but it doesn’t feel like it,” he said.
“The way she engages and cements herself inside the Cougar Family, it feels like 10 years.
“We know she loves this club, and she joked about being on the wall [for Cougar life members] only a few weeks ago, so we know she is fully committed to Cockburn.
“Jess has pushed herself up a level in 2022, both on and off the court. She is a vice-captain of the program, and has earned her opportunity back into the WNBL.
“She should be proud of herself, and certainly, we are.”
Edwards is in the middle of an outstanding NBL1 West season with the Cougars in 2022 with finals approaching. Not only is she putting up 18.3 points and 12.7 rebounds a game, but she’s had some massive performances.
That included 35 points and 22 boards against East Perth, 36 points and 13 rebounds against Mandurah, and 32 points and 16 boards against Perth.
She’s happy with her season and to have earned a WNBL contract on the back of her hard work.
“I am happy with how my season is going. I’ve been working hard with Ty and Andy over the season and during the summer too,” she said.
“I’ve been putting in the work to improve and my big goal was to get back and play for the Perth Lynx. I’m doing that this season so the hard work has obviously paid off in that sense so I’m really excited about that.”
Having had an opportunity with the Adelaide Lightning and then showing signs of what she could do in the hub with the Lynx, it was a surprise to not see Edwards in the WNBL last season.
However, she shook off that disappointment and got to work on getting better particularly alongside Tyrone Thwaites and Andy Stewart with the Cougars, and has now been rewarded with the contract at the Lynx for the 2022/23 season.
“It was disappointing last season because obviously I’ve always wanted to play for Lynx or anywhere in the WNBL really, but sometimes it doesn’t turn out how you want when you have certain players coming in or coming back from overseas,” Edwards said.
“It just is what it is sometimes but I’m super excited to be back in and playing with the team this year. There are lots of girls who I’ve played with before and have some good relationships with so I’m really excited to join with the Lynx again.”
Edwards is also looking forward to forming the front court and providing a strong presence up front this season at the Lynx with Lauren Scherf.
“I think we can work well together. I played against Lauren when I was playing over for Albury-Wodonga and it was always fun to play against her,” Edwards said.
“It will be fun to get to go up against her at training again but then to play with her now as well. We play a pretty similar role so I’m not sure how much we’ll be together on the court during games, but either way it will be still to have her on the team and be her teammate.”