Hometown hero Nicholls named as Lightning’s penultimate signing

Photo Credit: Still Sport

Loughborough Lightning can reveal that fan favourite Lauren Nicholls will return to the side in 2020 for her ninth successive season.

Nicholls – also known as ‘steaders’ – took time out in 2019 to have her baby daughter Maya and is now preparing to return to her first full season since motherhood.

“I’m really excited for season nine. It’s a really good squad coming together, so it’s good to see so many familiar faces from last season. I’m just really looking forward to getting back playing and seeing what we can do in the league,” Nicholls said. 

Nicholls will combine her on court efforts alongside a full-time role as Head of Netball at Oakham School. After last season was cut short due to the pandemic, she is now raring to go: 

“I felt like we just got going last year so it was tough for everyone when we had to stop. I think it was good that we kept connected over lockdown and with the familiar faces from last season now returning, we all stayed close so it will help massively going into the new season. 

“I’m looking forward to being back with the girls, regularly playing and training and seeing what we can achieve.”

Nicholls is also aware of the challenges of returning to sport after giving birth: 

“Coming back to netball as a first-time mum was really tough, there are no excuses, it was tough. 

“The mental load of trying to work out my daily schedule made me really tired. It was a whole new world for me and then also having to think about another life was another thing I had to factor in.”

She added: 

“But it’s been amazing at the same time, Maya is amazing. We’ve had a really good year now; she’s just turned one so it’s easier to have her around at training and around netball which is good.

“The support network I had was ridiculously important during that first year. Having family and friends and particularly my husband Phil there to help look after me and Maya was vital.”

Head Coach Sara Bayman explained how vital Nicholls’ experience will be to the squad: 

“Lauren is one of our longest serving players in the squad and that loyalty is appreciated. She represents the proud history of this club as well as the exciting future.

“The knowledge and experience she has can drive this team forwards and be an example to other players of what it means to represent this club.”

With just one more signing to reveal today, keep your eyes peeled on Lightning’s social channels to find out who its 14th and final squad member will be.

Confirmed squad so far:

  1. Beth Cobden
  2. Sam May
  3. Annabel Roddy
  4. Beth Gabriel
  5. Lucy Parize
  6. Ella Clark
  7. Mary Cholhok
  8. Hannah Williams
  9. Alice Harvey
  10. Jas Odeogberin
  11. Suzie Liverseidge
  12. Nat Panagarry
  13. Lauren Nicholls