Ashley Cookson, 33, will take the reins of the record-breaking top-flight Women’s British Basketball League team this summer after steering sides in Sweden, Australia and Canada.
The dad-of-one joins after a three-year stint with GB Basketball and coaching, scouting, and training roles on three continents.
He has helped develop, nurture, and grow talent at Sweden’s Wetterbygden Basketball, and in a series of high-profile roles in Australia – where he worked with governing bodies, universities, and associations.
Before signing with the Rebels Ashley ran Basketball Nomad in Canada – which developed coaches and players across the country.
Whilst there he formed integral links with provincial bodies, launched leagues and used high-tech analysis to boost performance.
Ashley will bring this expertise to the Rebels and will build on a successful season which saw the side set a nationwide attendance record and launch into the playoffs.
The experienced scholar of the game said: “I’m really excited to join the Essex Rebels and be a part of this incredible programme.
“This is such a thrilling time for women’s basketball and I’m keen to start working with the players and building for next season.
“The talent, infrastructure, and support here are unique in the WBBL and the University is really leading the way in developing the sport.
“The team is in a great place and I’m looking to build on this and make an immediate impact.”
He added: “I’m also just really excited to be in the UK, this is my first time as a head coach.
“I’m a big fan of the WBBL and I’ve been keen to break into this league for some time after following it whilst I was overseas.
“This is my opportunity to show what I can do, and I can’t wait to get started.”
He was recruited after an extensive search by Director of Sport Dr Dave Parry who selected Ashley due to his wide-ranging experience and impressive CV.
He said: “We had a strong field of candidates from across the globe apply to lead our basketball programme, but Ashley was the standout.
“He is full of determination and desire to bring success to the Essex Rebels.
“We were really impressed by his highly analytical approach to assessing players and teams, and his passion for increasing improvement in their performance.
“Ashley has an excellent reputation for developing players’ technical abilities and building strong relationships, as well as a very strong track record for putting in place player development pathways, which will help us in supporting our junior club to develop future Essex Rebels stars.
“Ashley’s appointment feels like a ‘go-ahead basket’ for us, and with Ross Norfolk already in place as our Assistant Coach, we have a really dynamic, young coaching team who are hungry for success.
“I feel confident basketball at the University of Essex is on the verge of reaching new heights.”
Ashley replaces long-serving coach Tom Sadler, who left this year to spend more time with his family abroad.