Wasps Netball burst onto the Vitality Netball Superleague scene in 2017 and were crowned champions in their inaugural season.
Tamsin Greenway will now be out to lift her fourth straight title as Wasps aim to win back-to-back titles.
Sam May reminisced fondly about the club’s success but is refusing to rest on her laurels as the countdown to the new season continues.
She said: “It was a very historic start for Wasps – new team, new players, new coach.
“We were basically building something from nothing and were able to achieve a goal in reaching the Final Four and then winning that top spot.”
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Coventry-based club.
May admitted: “We had so many injuries, so we would say that our season was very up and down due to this.
“We peaked at the right time but we feel we could have done a lot more and that’s why as a team so many people have come back this year because we feel as a team we can provide so much more than what was given out last year.”
Despite being a new club, they obtained a legion of loyal supporters who were optimistic about the chances for success in Wasps’ inaugural season.
May, and the rest of the squad, were delighted with the level of support and were certainly determined to make their mark in 2017.
Reflecting back on last year, the defender acknowledged the challenges faced when starting from scratch and how this made the title win even sweeter.
She said: “The fans saw a chance that we might do quite well but, as with all new teams, it’s hard to get the combinations right and I think that’s the advantage other teams had over us, they had a few years to build up relationships and combinations.
“A new team coming in can be quite difficult and that’s why it was really special that we came together, clicked so well and were able to win.”
The club started with a blank canvas but have worked both on- and off-court to build their own identity, culture, ethic and style.
May said: “Culture is huge for any team, and a lot of athletes will say that.
“The good thing about starting a new team is that you can start a whole new culture and learn from mistakes past, building every year onto that.
“It’s about foundations and building up those blocks early on, setting trends and rules – the Wasps way is our way.
“It’s really important that we set those structures early and that’s what we did.
“It started off with the highest point we could reach, which is good, but now we have to do it all over again, to keep that record going.”
Wasps have kept the same core unit, including defensive dynamo May and Superleague winning captain Hannah Reid, going into their second season.
One noticeable departure though was South Africa international Bongiwe Msomi, who proved a valuable asset with her energy, dynamism and athleticism.
However, Director of Netball Tamsin Greenway made a real statement of intent by bringing in England’s most capped international player of all-time, Jade Clarke.
And May believes the mid-court veteran will bring both experience and star quality to the team.
She said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better replacement than Jade.
“It’s sad that Bongiwe has left as she was such a valuable asset for the team but Jade is a really good asset.
“She’s one of the most capped England players, she’s got loads of experience and is such an easy going person who slides straight into the setup we have.
“The squad is quite similar to be honest – there have only been a couple of changes to the group.
“Everyone has got over the idea of it being our first year and it’s all a bit more serious.
“Everyone is clicking and knows their role in the squad and we are slowly building to push each other and individually help each other to be better players and be a better team.”
The team will have to deal with the added pressure of being reigning champions with expectations and hopes high that they can replicate their achievement.
May was full of praise for the team behind the team though and their impact and contribution to the club’s immediate success.
She said: “The pressure is a little bit more this year now that we have the title under our belt.
“But we have such a good support network with our coaches at Wasps that we trust that we all know what we’re doing and we can really listen in, train hard and hopefully get the same result.”
But who does May believe will be Wasps’ biggest rival as they aim to defend their title?
Discussing the off-season movement, she said: “Every year is different and it’s quite interesting to see the new faces and the shuffling around of players.
“I feel Loughborough will definitely be strong again – they have some great players.
“I think Bath have done really well with their recruiting – they have a very strong team.
“I think Sirens have done good recruitment as well and it will be interesting to see how they develop as they’ve got good new players.
“We are now in a situation where we have our developed players and we have our combos so it will be interesting to see how that goes.”
They have the talent, the determination and the desire to defend their title but face stiff competition from the rest of the league who will be fixed on taking the sting out of Wasps’ tale.
And May insists it’s one step at a time: “Make the Final Four and then we’ll go from there.”
Buy tickets for their home fixtures here.