Villawood Bendigo Spirit has signed two development players ahead of the fast-approaching 2021 WNBL season.
South Australian Bella Stratford returns after playing with the Spirit during the 2019-20 season and comes back to the club after a stint with the Southern Tigers in the NBL1 Central conference.
Spirit coach Tracy York said Stratford was a great addition to the team.
"Bella is a great young person and player," she said.
"She was a development player with the Spirit during the 2019-20 season and showed with her training commitment, versatility and toughness that she will again be an asset to our program.
"We're excited she has decided to stay in Australia this season and put on the blue and gold."
Stratford was thrilled to return to Bendigo and can't wait to hit the ground running.
"I am super excited to be joining the Spirit this season," she said.
"I can't wait to get started with the girls and I'm keen to see what I can learn from some of the best."
Joining Stratford will also be under-19 Australian squad member Alana Goodchild.
The 18-year-old from New South Wales comes to Bendigo with recent experience at Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence and has worked with coach York in the past.
"Alana joins the Spirit as one of our development players having represented state junior teams, Australian junior teams and a CoE Scholarship holder," York said.
"She has exceptional talent and versatility as well as being a very coachable and lovely young woman."
Goodchild is a close friend of Spirit rising star Piper Dunlop and can't wait to get to work at the Bendigo Stadium.
"I am incredibly grateful to coach Tracy and the organisation for providing this opportunity for me to grow as a player on and off the floor. Go Spirit," she said.
York said experience as a development player was crucial to overall athlete development.
"We saw how our development program benefited Piper last year," she said.
"Being around the team, taking part in training, and getting on the floor for a few games saw her come on in leaps and bounds.
"And with a full WNBL contract this season, the world is Piper's oyster.
"This is what being a development player is all about. We have a great opportunity to help develop the next stars of our game, and show them how great a club the Spirit is."
Goodchild and Stratford join a list of players signed to Bendigo for the 2021/22 WNBL season which includes Leilani Mitchell, Maddie Garrick, Tessa Lavey, Anneli Maley, Demi Skinner, Piper Dunlop and Megan McKay.
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