Australia’s newest sports franchise is set to strike into netball’s elite national competition in 2017 with the Sunshine Coast Lightning officially unveiled today.
A joint venture between Melbourne Storm and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), the Sunshine Coast Lightning was announced as the name of the region’s first national elite sports team – just six months out from the start of the new Australian-only eight-team national netball competition.
Sunshine Coast Mayor, Mark Jamieson, had the honour of officially unveiling the team name at a function at USC’s Sippy Downs campus, with the team logo and website also launched.
Mr Jamieson was joined on stage for the announcement by Melbourne Storm CEO, Dave Donaghy, USC Vice Chancellor Greg Hill, the Lightning’s recently appointed head coach Noeline Taurua and Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer.
The Lightning logo, designed in collaboration with Netball Australia’s creative agency, Wite Kite, is intended to be bold and striking.
The look aims to embody the determination and energy of Taurua’s team as it strives to be a force in the new competition in its inaugural year.
Unveiling the team’s name, logo and website – sunshinecoastlightning.com.au – marks the next step of Lightning’s evolution.
The team will continue to build its own identity as other milestones are reached over the coming weeks and months – most notably player signings.
Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said, “Today is an incredibly exciting day to be able to present Sunshine Coast Lightning to the community. It’s exciting for the junior netballers, the fans, local businesses and the entire Sunshine Coast region. This is your team. The Lightning will very quickly become a great source of pride for all of us.
“Establishing an identity is the first, crucial step in the creation of a professional sporting franchise. We have secured the best coach and as we progress with the recruitment of players, we encourage the Sunshine Coast community to register their support and interest at sunshinecoastlightning.com.au. There is a role for everyone to play in ensuring the Lightning are successful.
“We are grateful to have representatives from every netball association and junior club across the Sunshine Coast here today and the Lightning looks forward to working with each of you to develop and encourage more kids to play netball.
“The Lightning brand is the foundation and identity of this team. The Sunshine Coast is a place where you feel energised and can shine and we feel this name and logo is going to be one that the community will embrace and feel a connection with. Our focus was to develop a brand that would be relevant and resonate with our fans and the community.
“It’s been a fantastic effort from all involved to launch the Lightning and whilst it’s great to see the identity come together, this is just the beginning. The hard work continues as we race towards Round 1 in mid-February 2017.”
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Lightning would be another great addition to the world of opportunities that are available in the Sunshine Coast region.
“Our Council is proud of what has been achieved through this partnership and to be part of the consortium that has won this licence. One of the major benefits of being part of this ground-breaking new national competition will be the impact it will have on our grassroots netball.
“A young girl playing netball fixtures here on the Sunshine Coast can not only dream of making it all the way to the national team without leaving home, they can make it happen. They can also see their heroes here on the Coast, up close and personal, and on television when they’re away from home.
“We can’t wait for the opening game and cheering for the Lightning when they hit the floor at USC.”
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the establishment of Sunshine Coast Lightning as the region’s first national sports team would promote high-performance sport as a key attribute of the region.
“This partnership has galvanised USC to develop a strong brand around high-performance sport and invest in developing its facilities to a new level.
“Sunshine Coast Lightning is a wonderful fit to our university, where two-thirds of the students are female, and to a region with more than 6,000 registered netballers.”
Taurua, a former Silver Fern, was appointed to the role of head coach earlier this month, is now tasked with recruiting players and building her inaugural team which will be based at USC’s high performance centre.
The success of the University’s elite sports program has been on show at the Rio Olympics with three USC Spartans swimmers winning medals - Leah Neale (Silver, freestyle relay), Jake Packard (Bronze, medley relay) and Taylor McKeown (Bronze, medley relay).