We spoke to Holly Winterburn from the Leicester Riders women’s team about her experience and career so far, and the importance of supporting women’s sports.
The Leicester Rider’s Women’s team has achieved great success over the years. Winning 3 Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) trophies and one cup, the team has taken every challenge head-on and is looking forward to further triumphs. One star of the Riders, Holly Winterburn, has stepped up to the challenge of leading the team to glory.
“My mum would drive me up and down to training.
But then at 16 I moved to Leicester and became
a full-time member of the team.”
Born in Northampton, Holly has had a basketball career overflowing with experience. “I remember this company called Hotshots coming to my primary school.” said Holly. “They ran basketball sessions at lunchtimes for us and that’s honestly where it all started. I really enjoyed it! At 11 or 12 I joined the local Northants Basketball Club. Our team was called Northants Lightning.”
At the age of 14, she joined the Leicester Riders WBBL team. “My mum would drive me up and down to training. But then at 16 I moved to Leicester and became a full-time member of the team.”
Holly’s ambition led her further afield, too. She attended Oregon University in the USA for a year, where she saw significant success and continued to gain more experience before returning to the Leicester Riders.
When their previous captain Kate Oliver departed, Holly stepped up and began leading by example. “I was never really a big talker when it comes to leading the team. I usually led by doing. That’s one of the big things I’m working on right now—boosting team morale with pep talks and talking strategy.
“Half of our team left in March and we lost two games shortly following that. The team sat down together afterwards and talked about how we haven’t lost that many games in a row for three years! I think we took for granted how much we could turn up to games and just win. So I think just being on the winning team and having that winning mentality, you just learn how to get things done any way possible. We’re so used to winning but we never win in the same way every game, we just know how to adapt to get the win!”
A continued battle for popularity is also a challenge the team takes in its stride, with women’s sports and basketball growing in popularity in the UK and around the world.
“I think if people know about it and appreciate the effort we put into it, more people will begin to enjoy it and follow us. During my time in America, we would have about 16,000 people at our games. We were even getting noticed at the supermarket! There is so much room for women’s basketball but the difference between the US and the UK is that, in America, the entire town wanted to come and see our games. But over here, we’re giving tickets away. It’s purely down to the fact that people need to know we’re here—they need to get the taste for it!”
Once lockdown restrictions ease and sporting events welcome spectators back, attending a Leicester Riders game is very high on our recommendation list! The fire and passion of both the women’s and men’s teams are insurmountable and we wish them every success!