England U19 shooting sensation Chloe Essam is the latest international netballer to be named in a strong Loughborough Lightning squad ahead of their first pre-season friendly on Saturday 9 December.
Ramping up their preparations for the 2018 Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) season, the side in purple have also secured the signatures of fan favourite Lauren Nicholls and rising star Susie Armstrong.
Essam was part of Lightning’s Fast5 triumph in September and is growing in both ability and character. Having played her part in the 2017 VNSL campaign, the young shooter will look to step up and take on an even bigger role in 2018.
Ahead of her second season with the East Midland’s franchise Essam said:
“I’m really grateful to be re-selected for the upcoming season and being given the opportunity to play with a great group of girls. To represent Loughborough Lightning again after an amazing season last year is a dream come true and I’m looking forward to the new challenges ahead.”
Nicholls will be hoping her 2018 season is more successful than 2017, where she had to watch from the side-lines as the Loughborough University outfit topped the regular season league table.
After suffering a season ending knee injury in pre-season, Nicholls, whose maiden name was Steadman, was an ever present on the bench supporting her teammates. This togetherness within the squad is something that has been highlighted as one of the reasons for the team’s success in 2017.
On continuing her stay with Lightning Nicholls said:
”I’m really excited to have signed for Lightning for next season. I was devastated when I got injured last year, however staying connected with the team and rehabbing alongside their training sessions really kept me motivated.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the Lightning staff who have supported me with my ACL recovery and helped me to get back on court. I can’t wait for the season to start!”
The latest addition to the Lightning squad is another youngster, Susie Armstrong. Part of Manchester Thunder’s NPL setup, the circle defender has relocated to the East Midlands and will look to make an instant impact when she pulls on the purple dress.
“I am extremely excited to be a part of the Loughborough Lightning Superleague squad this season. Being at Loughborough with this squad is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to take to the court with the girls this season.”
Tickets are still available on the door tomorrow from 11am at The Netball Cebtre, Loughborough University. So why not head down and catch the new look team in action for the first time.