Severn Stars defender, Becky Oatley, has announced her retirement from professional netball.
Becky was involved in Stars’ 65-42 winning performance against Celtic Dragons, which brought the team’s Vitality Netball Superleague season to a close on Monday (June 25).
“Monday’s game was very emotional for me in so many ways,” said Becky. “I felt like I wanted to finish on a high and the time just felt right for me to pass on the playing baton to the young talent we have in our squad. Mentally and physically, it has been a tough year for me as I have had ongoing struggles with the ankle injury I suffered before the season started.”
The 33-year-old, of Worcester, has played for the Club for the last two seasons, but also has three caps for Wales, which included representing her country at Netball Europe 2016.
“I have been so proud to play for Stars and be a tiny part of their history and will of course miss the wonderful support of my teammates, coaches and of course, the fans,” she said. “I am thankful to every person I have met along my netball journey. I have made some incredible friendships, met some inspiring people and been humbled by the support I have received.
“As a little girl, I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to play in front of crowds of people, in arenas, live on national TV, and I have savoured every experience, leave with my head held high and with memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. It has been an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, but one in which I have learnt so many lessons about myself.”
Becky moved from Corsham, Wiltshire, where she grew up, to Cardiff 15 years ago and played for Cardiff University while studying there. She also played in the Welsh leagues for Leckwith, Treharris and Cowbridge and went on to play a season for Superleague side Celtic Dragons.
She was one of Stars’ first signings when the Club, a joint franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, was formed in 2016.
She combined playing alongside her PhD studies with the Association of Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, which she will continue. Her research looks at the experiences and sporting memories of women living with dementia. Becky said she would also continue to campaign on the stigma around mental health and discrimination faced by those with mental health conditions.
Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird, said: “I have loved working with Becc over the last two years. She has put in so many fine performances on court for Stars over our first two seasons. Becc has also contributed to developing the positive culture in our squad in that she is hard working, kind, a truly professional athlete and a great team player. We have been lucky to have Becc for our first two years as a club and we are working with Becc to look to keep her with the club in another role. I know Becc loves her cycling so she will have more time to follow that passion, but we hope that our fans will continue to see Becc with our club next season.”
Image credit: Lindsey Dowthwaite