• Caledonia Gladiators

Our Dream Is Everything

Where did this come from, you ask?

Lady Rocks, or as they were initially known, JRW Gladiators, have always had the ambition to play WBBL. This was the dream of Jim Lay, the co-founder of the club. He was the first person that believed we could, and for him, it was just a matter of when. Jim unfortunately passed away in 2010, and his players and a small group of club members, both players and volunteers, made it their mission to keep the club thriving, in the hope that one day they could make this dream come true.

This dream was only ever about one thing, and that was offering young people opportunity to play at the highest level and within their own club.

Over 16 years we have accomplished many things within Lady Rocks; some pleasing results, many Scottish titles and produced more than a few, achieving National honours as players, coaches, and team managers.

These are great achievements and success is lovely, especially for those players and coaches who work tirelessly week in week out. However, it would be unforgivable if we were to focus solely on results and not acknowledge those seasons where our girls worked just as hard but didn’t win any silverware.

Of course, these years mean just the same to us, no less work went into the season, it’s just that sometimes other teams deserve the win more- that’s Basketball!

So, when Alison and Steve Timoney stood up at our 2019 Awards Ceremony, an annual event they attend faithfully, and asked us to rise to a new challenge, we all sat up and listened.

Steve finished the evening by saying, “If you work to the motif, Our Team Is Everything, and we were to change that to, Our Dream Is Everything, what would that be? Let us, help you make that dream happen”

It was that very evening that fired the starters gun, and we got planning our move to add a WBBL team to the top of our pathway. The pandemic put a slight pause on this, but when we could, we got back in the race.

We realised we could take one of two routes; we could look to start a second WBBL team, complimenting the already existing Caledonia Pride, which was owned by Basketball Scotland, or we invite Basketball Scotland to explore whether they felt there was merit in Caledonia Pride moving across to the Lady Rocks pathway, offering future security and longevity.

Both routes were a genuine option, but we embarked on the second, and put forward a proposal to Basketball Scotland that was subsequently accepted.

Accepted on the premiss that all current members were given the opportunity to remain involved, which we happily accepted and are keen to make work in practice. We do understand that some student athletes may decide to focus on balancing their studies and playing within the existing Edinburgh University Bucs programme, although our door remains open.

Lady Rocks had also been working on a re-branding exercise and decided an effective synergy would be taking a bit of history from both Caledonia Pride and Lady Rocks. However, the ‘Rocks’ name was never ours to keep, so we reverted to our original name and announced Caledonia Gladiators!

Moving forward, and to help create a smooth and collaborative transition period, Basketball Scotland have since allowed Barry Lang, Head of Performance, to move across a couple of days a week, allowing Barry to continue his role within the WBBL team. This will of course offer support to any Pride members who opt to remain within the programme. It’s always good to have a ‘well-kent’ face during any period of transition, so having Barry is a welcomed addition to our team.

The club will retain its full pathway from U12 through to senior women, with U14 upwards competing within the Scottish Basketball Championship. The club will continue to be led by the current leadership team, Tony McDaid and myself, alongside a group of volunteers who have been working with the club for many years.

And of course, the entry of a WBBL team doesn’t come without investment, and as sole investors, the WBBL team makes its move with new owners, Alison and Steve Timoney.

But why?

Why would a couple who could invest their money in anything, choose a basketball club?

Good question and when asked, they certainly made my eyes well. Put simply, they see the massive benefit that sport makes to a life, and the difference basketball has made to the community that we have touched over the sixteen years.

Remember, Alison and Steve haven’t just emerged from under a rock, they have been with us from the start. They’ve sat on the side-lines cheering for many a season, they’ve helped us build, supported us emotionally, financially, and physically for the duration of our tenure.

Whilst they might be new owners to Caledonia Gladiators pro team, basketball isn’t new to them. Our club is most certainly not new to them and it’s all too common to see them kicking around our court, sporting our club gear and shouting “defence” enthusiastically.

You see, there’s something pretty significant in this story and it’s not the part that a couple who can, have!

If this was common practice, then Scotland would of course have more teams playing WBBL. But we all know the reality; basketball has very limited money injected from anywhere, and it's most certainly not common for people to put their hand in their pocket; why would they, Basketball gets little to no coverage across any media forum.

That’s what sets Alison and Steve apart. They don’t want accolade, or their name shouted from the rooftops, they simply want to do something that will make a difference. They appreciate the fact that it takes someone to step up at some point and build on the profile of the best sport in the world.

Do they have the right to put forth a serious ambition around their investment- damn right they do and without need for an apology.

To paraphrase my favourite singer, 'It takes just One Voice’ and others may follow.

Let’s hope their lead encourages others to do something similar, wouldn’t that be special!

There are several fantastic basketball clubs across Scotland, with equally fantastic personnel. These clubs continue to put their heart and soul into making a difference within their own communities, through the sport they love.

Working together, could seriously raise the bar.

The addition of the pro-team has most definitely been a whirlwind, but we have made a start with two exciting signings in Miguel Angel Ortega Marco as Head Coach and Chantelle Handy, as his Assistant Coach and player. Both Miguel and Chantelle will take the lead as we hit the floor for the first ever season as Caledonia Gladiators.

To finish, I would like to offer a personal and heartfelt thanks, to those who continue to support us year after year, and especially to those who go above and beyond to make this wee community club, whatever it is today.

And of course, to Alison and Steve, for again trusting and believing in us, unconditionally.

Lisa Palombo

Head of Operations

July 2022

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