THE Severn Stars Netball franchise have announced their new head coach to lead them into the 2022/23 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

Recently retired Saracens Mavericks defender Jo Trip will take over from Melissa Bessell, who stepped down from her role at the conclusion of the 2021/22 campaign to return home to New Zealand for family reasons.

Trip arrives at the beginning of a new era for the Stars, as the franchise moves forward under the sole ownership of the University of Worcester after co-owner University of Gloucestershire announced its withdrawal at the end of the 2022 season.

"I’m delighted to be appointed Head Coach of Severn Stars and take them into a new era of netball,” said Trip.

"The vision the University of Worcester franchise has for its future, the facilities and support staff already in place for players coupled with the sense of community evident here, easily made it an opportunity I couldn't turn down.

"There has been a huge amount of growth in the playing level within the VNSL over the past seven years of my involvement, and I’m excited to now apply my experience and lessons learnt as a player in this new role.

"Being appointed Head Coach for the franchise has reignited an intense passion for netball and set a fire in my belly! I’m already very excited by the quality of players being attracted to Severn Stars."

Trip’s netball career began in her native New Zealand, playing for ANZ Championship sides Mainland Tactix and Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic. She also represented her country at Under 21 level and New Zealand A team level. The defensive player then moved to the UK, playing for Loughborough Lightning for two seasons from 2016, before moving on to Surrey Storm. She finished her 12-year elite playing career at Saracens Mavericks in 2021.

Trip spent last season working as a technical coach with Loughborough Lightning, alongside her Director of Netball role at Samuel Whitbread Academy in Bedfordshire. The Academy was extremely supportive of Trip’s ambition to progress as an elite netball coach and has wished her every success going forward.

She has been hard at work and is already putting a strong team together for the upcoming season. Trip will also be involved in the Severn Stars Pathway programme to nurture young talent across the region, working alongside the new Franchise Pathway Lead to ensure all coaches and players are provided with the opportunity to develop.