From the start, Mitchell Lewis was one of the most likeable characters at Waverley Park.
We both arrived in 2016, Mitch after the national draft (pick No. 76) and myself after the rookie draft (pick No. 62).
There were a group of us from that 2016 draft crop – Conor Glass, James Cousins, Harry Morrison, Mitch and I – who all clicked from our first meeting.
When we first met, Mitch was just your regular 18-year-old lad, who loved his cricket and golf and not much has changed since!
He’s a talented athlete who plays off scratch and played district cricket for Carlton’s second XI as a junior.
If you ask him, there’s probably no sport he can’t play.
We’re running a table tennis competition at the club and he’s the hot favourite to take it out.
Mitch is the type of guy who is good at most things he tries but I think ‘Glassy’ and myself have him covered when we play hacky sack.
With our round ball background we’ve got him covered and I’m sure Mitch would tell you he probably doesn’t have the greatest touch in that sport.
In our first year, Glassy and I took a few of the young lads to an Irish pub in the city – PJ O’Brien’s – where they all tried their first pint of Ireland’s famous Guinness.
Watching Mitch have his first sip wasn’t the most pleasing experience judging by the look on his face but it was a memory that’ll stand out!
The other memory that is a highlight of our friendship was travelling to Kokoda in Papua New Guinea together last off-season with Hawthorn’s other first to four-year players.
After a few days on the track your clothes are filthy and wet, which presents a challenge when your trekking such a physical track and for Mitch, it was probably the worst.
He developed a huge rash that he spent weeks after trying to get rid of – it was horrible!
Despite this, Mitch was one of the guys who led from the front. During those experiences, you rely on each other’s spirit and energy to get you through when the days are tough and Mitch was huge.
For a young guy, he demonstrated leadership skills and was able to bring people along with him on the journey. It’s reflective of his growth this season, too.
Mitch was told last off-season that he needed to put on size to become a forward target. To his credit, he went away and worked really hard on developing himself to be the best he can be.
He spent majority of the pre-season shadowing ‘Roughy’ (Jarryd Roughead) and has grown as a result. Anything he’s been told to improve on or work towards, he’s gone away and done.
Around the club, Mitch has got some swagger about him.
Hopefully he won’t mind me saying that but it’s what you want from the young lads coming in – he isn’t shy, he’s quite extroverted, loves to crack jokes and have a laugh.
Mitch is incredibly deserving of his nomination. He was given a task over the off-season and he’s worked tirelessly to get there.
It’s a huge credit to him and the way he goes about his footy. Anything he puts his mind to he usually gets done and he’s shown with the way he’s grown as a footballer.
It’s been a pleasure to watch his development as a mate.
AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES IN 2019
Round 13 – Dylan Clarke (Essendon)
Round 17 – Shai Bolton (Richmond)
Round 18 – Mitchell Lewis (Hawthorn)