Having taken over the Dandenong Rangers WNBL program following the conclusion of the 2018/19 season, Gerry Ryan has rebranded the team as the Southside Flyers, announcing that Cheryl Chambers will be the new head coach and Australian Opals captain Jenna O’Hea the first big signing.
“The Southside name reflects our commitment to create a team with support from the beachside suburbs of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula through to the Dandenong Ranges, Gippsland and beyond,” the owner of Jayco stated in announcing the new-look team.
“The Flyers hopefully will describe the style of play and success of the team within the WNBL.
“The Southside Flyers is a fresh start for the team with fresh faces, fresh plans and a completely new look for basketball and women’s sport. The Australian women’s basketball team is ranked number three in the world and we want to build a culture and profile for this team and the sport that reflects this world standing.
“Being a competitive team that is sustainable at the elite level is just a start. The Southside Flyers will be about creating mentors and role models, a team that is involved with the wider community, a team that inspires females to be involved in sport.”
Ryan took over the team officially on 2 July, with Jayco having been a long-time supporter of women’s basketball and the Dandenong Rangers dating back to the mid 1990’s.
The Flyers will not only boast a new name and moniker, but they will also take to the court boasting a new colour scheme. Aqua and navy is set to underpin the new look, with the uniform set to be unveiled at an official function during August.
Dandenong have a long and successful history in the WNBL, winning three championships, the last of which was won in 2012. They most recently played off for the 2017 championship, going down to the Sydney Uni Flames in the grand final series (0-2).
According to Ryan, the Southside Flyers will respect the history of the former WNBL side, with the team playing its home games at Dandenong Stadium.
“Our vision is to significantly broaden the support for the new team and to get the whole basketball community involved. The name Southside Flyers reflects this vision,” Ryan added.
Three-time WNBL Coach of the Year Cheryl Chambers will take the reigns of the rebranded WNBL club.
“This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a new basketball team, to develop a successful squad from the ground up and to work with Gerry Ryan,” said Chambers. “This will be more than a successful basketball team, this will be about the community and women’s sport.”
An assistant coach with the Australian Opals, Chambers is currently in Phoenix, Arizona at their training camp under the guidance of Sandy Brondello. She would go on to outline in the release that she has been busy behind the scenes assembling the roster for the 2019/20 season, announcing former WNBA player and current Opals captain Jenna O’Hea as their star first signing.
“It has been a busy time talking with many of Australia’s top basketballers and we are confident we will have a very competitive squad from the start. The interest from players has been positive and we are delighted that Australian and WNBL star Jenna O’Hea was one of the very first players to commit to the team.”
In the release, O’Hea explained she was keen to be involved in the launch of the reinvigorated program under the Southside Flyers name.
“I am really excited to be part of this new team and look forward to enjoying success with the Southside Flyers,” said O’Hea. “Cheryl is an outstanding coach and I know Gerry Ryan is a great supporter of women’s sport, particularly basketball. It is a real privilege and I am sure we are going to have an exciting time on and off the court as we build the Southside Flyers name.”
A Life Member of the WNBL, O’Hea most recently played for the Melbourne Boomers last season, while guiding the Opals to silver at the 2018 FIBA World Cup for women.
Further player announcements are expected upon Chambers’ return from the US, however Rebecca Cole and Sara Blicavs have been rumoured to be linked with the new-look club.