Solent Stars - Women's Team

The first Solent Women's team.
Back row (left to right) Mick Byrne, Belinda Over (nee Malone), Trevor Denny; Chris Cull, Pete Vaughan (Head Coach).
Middle row (left to right) Sue Smith, Kathy Williams, Jackie Cherry (nee Robinson), Paula MacKay, Linda Day.
Front row (left to right) Sharon Benfield (nee Hill), Sally Clarkson, Kim Grainger, Jill Morton.

The Solent women's team sprang originally from a school team at Redbridge School, Southampton. A club for local league players was formed to keep them together after leaving school. Natural progression and the sponsorship of Harry Smith through his Scandinavian Homes company took the club into the NBL Division Two In the 1977/78 season. They won that Division at their first attempt.

Promotion to Division One and the problem of competing with the strongest Division One sides led to the recruiting of Eileen Dunn, a powerful six foot American player who helped the team become the first promoted team not to be relegated the following season, when they finished in fifth (out of eight) position. She was ultimately followed by another American, Maggie Joseph, after three seasons.

The team was known variously over the first seasons as SCANDINAVIAN HOMES SOLENT, SPERRINGS SOLENT SUNS and SOLENT SUNS.

Solent women played their first ever European Cup tie at Fleming Park against a Spanish side Vacciones Pantax Madrid. They lost the match 50 - 86 (Dunn 17, Day 12) and they were hampered by an injury to Maggie Joseph. They also played a winning game in the Federation Cup in the same season against lrish team Cork (83 - 78). A nine day tour of the USA was undertaken prior to the start of the 1980/81 season.

The club played in the National League from the 1977/78 season until the 1984/85 season. Ten years later it was to reform as the SOLENT PACERS.

Many of the team still have strong basketball connections in the area and some are still with the Solent Stars club within its Youth programme.

Some of the former players are listed here:

Beverley Smith Paula McKay Maggie Joseph
Volga Gharibian Helen Sherin Linda Day
Annette Hansen Cheryl Heron Karen Churchill
Jean Dorward Jane Sykes Teresa Bleach
Gill Legg Janice Kitchen Grace Jacca
Donna Seily Tina Murray Sally Clarkson
Jackie Cherry Eileen Dunn .

The coach for the squad for a number of seasons was Jimmie Guymon, as well as by Eileen Dunn in her three year spell with the club.

Early playing records are shown in the table:

Season Played Won Lost For Against Diff. Points Position
1977/78 10 9 1 641 449 +192 18 1/6
1978/79 14 5 9 756 924 -168 10 5/8
1979/80 14 5 9 945 1069 -124 10 6/8
1980/81 14 8 6 934 890 +44 16 5/8
1981/82 16 12 4 1211 971 +240 24 3/9
1982/83 18 6 12 1191 1390 -199 12 7/10
1983/84 18 4 14 1032 1369 -337 8 8/10
1984/85 22 1 21 991 1856 -865 2 12/12

1995/96 18 12 6 1041 987 +54 24 4/10
1996/97 16 5 11 935 1021 -86 10 7/9
1997/98 22 5 17 1104 1307 -203 10 11/12
1998/99 14 1 13 704 903 -199 2 8/8

For a second time, Solent Pacers (under coach Jimmie Guymon) re-entered the National League (in Division 2) in 1995-96 season, finishing fourth with a 12 - 6 win/loss record. After two seasons they reverted to the name Solent Suns and finally withdrew at the end of the 1998-99 season.

In 2003 Solent Stars re-entered the league, for a third time, in the National League (Division 2 South) under coach Michael Ball. They won the division that season to qualify for the First Division in 2004.

The team was a blend of local players, who had come through the excellent development programme, and those recruited from a wider area, and they proved an immediate success, with an unbeaten campaign that secured them the Division 2 South title, the Women's Trophy, and the Division 2 Championship.

This was followed by an excellent debut season in Division 1 (following the Regional Qualifying Leagues, to reorganise the divisions), in which they finished fourth.

For up-to-date information on the Solent Suns, please visit their website.

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