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Parks and football as his recreation

“Parksy, where are you? You’re playing this week.”

When Carlton coach David Teague announced those words to his playing group in the days before the Blues’ round three clash with Fremantle, Luke Parks felt like he had left reality.

He had entered a world of euphoria.

A world at a polar opposite to the one of heartbreak and despair which had, for a moment, encircled Parks on draft night in 2019.

But the Sydney Swans academy product swiftly searched for another avenue to his AFL aspirations.

Before long, he found himself on a one-way plane trip to Adelaide.

“I was pretty heartbroken after the draft, and then not getting rookie drafted the next day as well, I thought I needed to take my ability elsewhere,” Parks told

“I had a few people tell me I could go pretty well in the SANFL and there was an opportunity there. I thought if I moved interstate, I’d get some good experience out of it, so I thought I’d just get on a plane and go.”

Parks soon pulled on the Glenelg jumper, and made a name for himself as a courageous defender with noteworthy aerial and intercepting ability.

Living away from home as an 18-year-old came with its challenges, as Parks combined football with university studies and a day job. 

“Being on time, having to do my washing, doing the dishes, getting my week organised with uni around footy. Having to be really organised, I think that’s the main point,” Parks said.

“But I was put up with a really awesome host family who looked after me very well, as pretty much their son. Without them, I wouldn’t have had the year I had. They kept me pretty organised and I learnt a few lessons that year for sure.”

Parks played every game for Glenelg as he assembled a standout season, and again, he was on the radar of AFL clubs.

Draft night arrived.

“I was pretty close with Jimmy Rowe. I saw him go [to Adelaide] and I was obviously stoked for him,” Parks recalled.

“I saw the call from (Carlton list boss) Mick Agresta to tell me that I’m a Blue, and I shed a tear.”

As picks went by, Parks wasn’t named — for the second consecutive year.

But there was still hope in the form of the rookie draft, which was scheduled for the following day.

“I was pretty flat,” he said. “I thought, ‘I guess I’ll have another year in the SANFL, and we’ll see how that goes’, but I went to work the next day and was following [the rookie draft] pretty closely. I was shaking, to be honest.”

The phone started to buzz. It was Carlton’s national recruiting manager.

“I saw the call from Mick Agresta to tell me that I’m a Blue, and I shed a tear,” Parks said.  “I was absolutely overwhelmed, it was crazy.”

The 192-centimetre defender embarked on his first AFL pre-season, learning the importance of diet and sleep under the close watch of the Blues’ director of high performance, Andrew Russell.

Then, in the lead up to round three, Teague asked the playing a group a question in a team meeting.

“If you were to pick one player here and say, ‘They’re aggressive, they defend like their life depends on it’, who would it be?” the coach asked.

“Jonesy,” one player said, referring to defender Liam Jones. “Weiters,” said the second, citing Jacob Weitering. The third?


“Parksy,” Teague repeated.

“Parksy, where are you? You’re playing this week.”

“My heart just dropped,” said Parks. “It felt like my brain came out of my body for a second. You think about it all through school and all through life, and that’s the moment, you’re going to do it. I was absolutely ecstatic.”

He had entered that world of euphoria.

Parks is now living out his dream, playing AFL football and solidifying his spot in Carlton’s back six.

“It’s a real hot footy,” Parks said.

“You’ve got to be on your toes and think about a few different things at once, but you can’t let too many things creep into your head. You need to come back to your roots and strengths, and I think that’s what I’ve learnt.”