My experience with the AFLW draft has been unique but also contrasting. Mainly because I have been through two of them.
In 2016 I had been drafted at pick #109 by Fremantle, delisted in the same season and then drafted again in 2017 as a first round pick at #2 by Fremantle.
Nominating for my first AFLW draft, I was actually pretty reluctant to do so. I had only started playing footy that year so was still pretty fresh to the sport and thought my chances were slim at getting picked up.
I had a long-term goal to reach AFLW but hadn’t considered it a full possibility yet until my coaches and teammates at Swan Districts floated the idea of nominating. So eventually I did.
Heading into the 2016 draft I still wasn’t sure what to expect.
Not many people close to me knew I had nominated, not even some of my immediate family.
I remember having a massive university assignment due that day so I wasn’t watching, but was attempting to keep up-to-date on Twitter.
The emotions running through me when my friend Jess called to let me know Fremantle had drafted me were surreal – I was excited, overwhelmed and grateful. It was also safe to say finishing that assignment with any distraction was a lost cause.
If you are fortunate enough to get drafted, it’s a massive and exciting day. Firstly your phone blows up into a social media frenzy but it is also just the beginning of your journey. For me, it was a huge change.
When I look back on my first season in the system, I didn’t live up to the playing standard required. I was gutted when I was delisted but there was definitely room for improvement within my game.
I went back to club footy and surrounded myself with good people and did everything in my power to get redrafted.
Heading into the 2017 draft, it was very different. I was in a fortunate position where Fremantle had told me I would be taken and with their first pick.
It was pretty huge to have gone from being delisted, feeling like my dream had derailed and to then be re-drafted at pick #2 all in less than 12 months.
I was lucky enough to be flown to Melbourne this time and got to enjoy the experience of being at the draft with one of my teammates Gabby O’Sullivan.
Although it was still surreal for my name to get called out a second time, I was able to sit back and relax a bit more. It was great to see the opportunity of playing AFLW be presented to so many other young pups – I was living through them in a way.
My situation is unique, but so is much of the AFLW system. If you don’t get drafted, don’t let the possibility go. Don’t shy away from hard work, don’t shy away from your goals and don’t forget about the dream.
There is still so much opportunity and so much work you can continue to do behind the scenes to reach the AFLW. It isn’t the end if you don’t get drafted this year.
But if you do, you are on the way to a really exciting experience that only few have the opportunity to live. Good luck and remember, successful or not this year, your journey is only just beginning.