Head coach, Michael Hanson-Morris, said, "It's a huge step forward for the British game to be able to give domestic players an opportunity to showcase their talent, and for the sport as whole to continue to increase the awareness and opportunities Wheelchair Basketball can provide.
"It's exciting to be able to offer players an opportunity to have a more elite mindset and hopefully some opportunities they haven't had before despite appearing at a combination of major events including Junior and Senior World Championships. Our group are really excited for this experience and journey and looking forward to opening day in January."
Player Freya Levy, said, "To sign with East London Phoenix means a lot. The facilities at UEL are among the best in the country, and along with an incredible group of women, we're in great shape to make an impact in the league. I cannot wait to get started.
"I hope this inspires the next generation to get involved in one of the most inclusive and fast paced disability sports available and shows young disabled girls that anything is possible with a great team behind you."
Lisa Pearce, British Wheelchair Basketball’s chief executive, added, "We saw how the nation got behind the sport during the Paralympic Games, so I'm really excited to create more opportunities for people to watch wheelchair basketball in the UK. The teams include a range of leading players and up-and-coming talent, so it's going to be a hugely interesting league to watch evolve.
"I am absolutely delighted to be working with our four High-Performance Partnerships and creating more opportunities for elite female talent, both in the UK and internationally. Today is another important moment in achieving our big ambitions to raise the profile of the sport, build new audiences and create more opportunities for people to play across all levels."
The East London Phoenix will play their matches at SportsDock on the University of East London's Docklands campus. SportDock’s world class facilities were home to Team USA during the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and today are used as a training venue for the London Lions, who play in the top tier of the British Basketball League (BBL) and Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).
SportsDock will deliver exciting gameday experiences that aims to bring the local community together by creating an inclusive atmosphere where everyone is welcome.
Dr Ian Pickup, pro vice-chancellor for education and experience at UEL, said, "Women’s sport and para-sport across the board continues to grow and I am proud of the role that UEL is playing in supporting athletes from a diverse background. Through exciting partnerships and programmes, we are building something that people from across East London can really get behind."
East London Phoenix 2022 squad:
- Charlotte Thornton White – 1.0
- Fi Tillman – 1.0
- Freya Levy – 1.0
- Curran Brown – 2.5
- Evelyn Roberts – 2.5
- Beth Wheeler – 3.0
- Amy Conroy – 4.0
- Nik Terrell – 4.0
- Head Coach - Michael Hanson-Morris
Amy is a three-time Paralympian and was Great Britain's co-captain for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. She has been part of the GB National team setup since 2010, winning six international medals including the 2015 U25 World Championships, where she was named the tournament's most valuable player (MVP).
Beth is a 2019 U25 World Championship bronze medallist, where she averaged 5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game in just 15 minutes of action. She was also included in the GB training squad for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Whilst at the University of Illinois, Curran played alongside GB international Helen Freeman under the guidance of former USA Head Coach Stephanie Wheeler. Curran now attends the University of Brunel where she is studying for her master's degree in occupational therapy.
Charlotte Thornton White
Charlotte recently completed her undergraduate degree at UEL and was part of the wheelchair side that finished 3rd in the 2019-2020 University Championship. Now studying for a master's degree, Charlotte will combine that alongside playing for the Phoenix and Aces Wheelchair Basketball Club.
Evelyn is a former GB pathway player and spent time with the GB U25 squad before focusing on finishing her degree at the University of Worcester. She currently works for the Surrey FA as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer and will continue to do so whilst playing for the Phoenix.
Having picked up wheelchair basketball after the 2012 London Paralympics, Fi quickly became part of the Great Britain (GB) setup featuring at the 2014 World Championship in Toronto before earning a spot at the 2017 European Championships where she won a bronze medal.
Freya's first appearance on the world stage was as part of the bronze medal winning 2019 U25 World Championship squad, where she averaged 13 minutes a game in tournament. Freya is a multi-sport athlete playing both para ice hockey and rugby league alongside her wheelchair basketball career.
Nik was due to attend her first GB pathway session in 2020 before Covid-19 put those plans on hold. Having spent 18 months out of action after previously being part of the Glasgow Lady Rocks, Nik will return to the court with the goal of making the Scotland squad for the Commonwealth Games.
Head Coach - Michael Hanson-Morris
Michael is a former UEL student, who has had a successful coaching career at the highest levels of the game winning silverware at Leicester Riders and Nottingham Wildcats. In his first head coach role, Michael went 53-5 at Anglia Ruskin whilst earring the Women's National Basketball League 'Coach of the Year Award' in 2019/20.
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