All players and coaches have mentors who guide them through their careers and Luke Beveridge is no exception.
Joining Melbourne as an 18-year-old, Beveridge’s playing career extended across 11 years and three AFL clubs, with plenty of coaches who taught him what it took to play at the highest level and helped shape him into a better person.
Featured as part of Channel Seven’s #Discovered series, Beveridge said of all the individuals involved throughout his 118-game career, there’s one St Kilda legend who holds a special place in his heart.
“I’ve had lots of mentors and role models but Trevor Barker was an idol of mine. I was actually a little blonde kid with long hair, long sleeves with the number one [jumper], and used to take speckies on mum and dad’s bed, thinking I was ‘Barks’ or wanting to be Trevor Barker.
“Then when I went to the Saints from the Bulldogs at the end of 1995, Barks was coaching the twos, so I struck up a relationship with him – which was special to me, but Barks was really sick at the time.
“I started the year in the twos and two weeks later he passed away. I was an emotional wreck at his funeral because he meant a lot to me.”
Though Beveridge’s own coaching career is still in its infancy, things are working out pretty well so far.
The 44-year-old has taken the Western Bulldogs from the what some described as a crisis to finals contention in only seven months.
Currently sitting in eighth place on the ladder, the club is now looking to feature in its first September campaign since 2010 and is fixtured to play only two top eight sides in the remaining ten matches of the home and away season.
But being an AFL coach has its challenges. Mental burnout has been on the agenda for coaches as well as players in recent times. Whenever he needs some time away to freshen up, Beveridge drives down the coast and enjoys a pastime he can’t stay away from.
“I was an emotional wreck at his funeral, because he meant a lot to me” – Luke Beveridge
“There’s a little bit of stress in coaching but I just really look forward to a surf so when I get out there I enjoy it. When we have a day off and the swell’s okay, I try and sneak down and have a paddle.
“The solitude is a brilliant thing and I love that at times. You can have a really flat patch [of swell] for an hour these days but you get a good one and it brings back memories of when you were 15. It’s a bit like a good golf shot, it keeps you coming back for your next round.”
Though coaching has its intricacies, the management of people remains at the forefront.
And while his success as a coach will always be measured in premierships, Beveridge has a different litmus test to measure his influence.
“If I finished up tomorrow and I walked away with every one of my players still wanting to have a coffee or a beer with me, that’s a good test that they respected and appreciated what I tried to do for them.
“It’s not the most important thing across the broader spectrum, but for me it’s the most crucial thing.”