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Loughborough Lightning are locked in for 2024

Loughborough Lightning have confirmed their final squad of 12 for NSL 2024.

The 2023 champions named their squad of 12 over three separate exciting announcements, with the return of some familiar faces and some new ones thrown into the mix.

Shooters

The attacking line up was announced first, with fan favourite and 2023 Gilbert Top Scorer, Mary Cholhok kicking things off. Cholhok topped the scoring table with a whopping 808 goals throughout the regular season. The super shooter also earned herself a spot in the All Star VII.

After having a stellar season with Lightning, Cholhok represented Manchester Thunder for the Fast 5 series, adding another medal to her collection with a victory over Team Bath. She then flew to Cape Town, where she represented Uganda in the Netball World Cup.

Mary said: “It’s always a pleasure to wear the purple dress. I can’t wait for the fun and good times ahead of the season with a team full of hard-working individuals.”

Rhea Dixon was the next name to be announced as a retuning player for 2024. She will be rejoining Cholhok in the shooting circle, adding depth to the mid-court when playing Goal Attack. Dixon won Most Improved Player at the Loughborough Lightning End of Season Awards, which she will be hoping to continue to showcase her talent in 2024.

Excited for the season ahead, Dixon said: “I couldn’t be more excited and ready to get the 2024 season started with Lightning. The growth shown both individually and as a group was massive for us, and I really believe we have even more to give. Bring it on!”

After missing the 2023 season due to injury, Ella Clarke is back with a bang for 2024 and the Club is super excited to have her back on the court. She played a key role in Lightning’s coaching team last season, working hard and driving her team to victory.

Looking ahead to 2024, Ella said: “I’m excited to be back on court with the team and in the purple dress, ready to defend our title!”

The Queen of long-bombs, Niamh McCall has been known for sinking stunning shots for both Strathclyde Sirens and the Scottish Thistles. However, next season, McCall will don the purple dress of Lightning.

McCall completes the shooting line up for Lightning for 2024, ready to get started with her new side.

Mid-court

Captain fantastic and firm fan-favourite Nat Panagarry will be back for the 2024 season. After leading her side to victory in 2023, the mid-courter is back and more ready than ever to get going again with her team.

After earning six Gilbert Player of the Match awards in 2023, Panagarry left everything out on court and worked tirelessly to get to their third consecutive Grand Final.

Nat said:

“That competitive edge we have at Lightning, that is the reason why I love this club, I have been here eight years, it is about constantly pushing each other no matter what age you are or how many medals you have got around your neck.”

Nat Panagarry

After coming back to the NSL halfway through the 2023 season, Beth Cobden made her mark with Lightning and showcased her talent all the way through to Grand Final.

A tough battle with multiple injuries saw Cobden fight back and earn her way back into the squad. Her determination is second to none and she is ready and raring to go for a full season in 2024.

Hannah Joseph is one of the longest serving Loughborough Lightning players to date, and she is back for 2024.

This will be Joseph’s 12th season in the purple dress. After being selected for the full-time Roses programme for 2023-24, she is all geared up for another season ahead at Lightning. Joseph will be playing in the upcoming series in New Zealand, one for Lightning fans to look out for!

A full time contract call up for Bella Bayliss sees her elevated into the main squad for 2024.

After starting out with Saracens Mavericks in 2021, Bayliss then went onto represent Lightning for the 2023 season, making eight appearances in the title winning team.

Bella said: “It’s a dream come true to be given this opportunity. I feel so honoured to be part of this franchise with such amazing players, coaches and support staff., I’m incredibly grateful to the coaches for giving me my first NSL contract and can’t wait to get started.”

Whilst balancing netball and her University studies, Bayliss will be one to look out for in the mid-court in 2024.

Defence

Formidable Goal Keeper Alice Harvey will make a return for Lightning in 2024. After signing her first contract for Lightning in 2020, Harvey has made her mark in the Lightning squad, earning a title win in 2021 and 2023.

After a 2023-24 full time Vitality Roses contract was secured, Harvey is set to make waves in the upcoming series in New Zealand. A stellar year for the defender with Lightning allows her to repeat again for 2024.

Former Loughborough Lightning star Annabel Roddy is making a comeback for 2024. Re-signing to the club for the first time since 2021, Roddy is excited to be back in purple after two years with newly branded Cardiff Dragons.

Plying her trade at both domestic and international level, Roddy competed in the England age group set up from U17, winning Europe Netball in in 2017, up to U21 and received her first NSL cap at just 18 years old. Roddy then got her first taste of success in purple, winning the British Fast5 All Stars competition in 2019.

Roddy said:

“It feels so good to be back at Loughborough and to re-join the Lightning family. I’m looking forward to pushing myself alongside such a strong team and working hard to keep the title. I’m ready and excited for the challenge.”

Selected into the England Roses Academy at 17-years-old and receiving her first NSL cap with London Pulse in 2022, 19-year-old Jade Popoola has edured a rollercoaster ride to the peak of her netball career,

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, Popoola has now made the switch to Loughborough Lightning where she hopes her upwards path will continue with the 2023 champions;

“I’m really excited to join the Loughborough Lightning squad for this coming season. I am so grateful to have such an amazing opportunity to work alongside such experienced and talented players and coaches who will help me grow as an aspiring player.”

23-year-old defender Nicola Smith is the final name delivered in Lightning’s defensive unit for 2024. A South African International, Smith joins Lightning fresh from the 2023 Netball World Cup where her nation finished sixth in the world.

Smith joins fellow South African players such as Sigi Burger and Sammy Ngubane, all of whom are plying their trade in the NSL.

Following in the footsteps of fellow countrywoman Zanele Vimbela who has departed Lightning this season, Smith hopes to benefit from the championship winning outfit in 2024;

“I LITERALLY CAN’T WAIT TO GET STARTED WITH LOUGHBOROUGH LIGHTNING! I’VE HEARD SUCH AMAZING THINGS ABOUT THEIR TEAM, COACHES AND CULTURE AND I KNOW TO BE A PART OF THAT WILL BE REALLY SPECIAL. I’M JOINING THE CHAMPIONS BECAUSE I WANT TO BE A CHAMPION TOO AND THE 2024 SEASON CAN’T COME SOON ENOUGH!”

You can keep up to date with all the 2024 squads and signings here.

To keep up with the latest news, make sure to follow the @NetballSL on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok and subscribe to our newsletter. 

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