I started off as a skinny, 18-year-old Frankston kid driving a 1994 Holden Commodore.
I left seven years later with a ton of skills and knowledge to help with my transition into non-AFL life, whilst driving a 2013 Holden Commodore.
Being in the AFL system is everything it’s cracked up to be. You build great relationships, you live a healthy lifestyle, you spend every day with 45 of your best mates and you get to play the greatest game on earth.
Having said that, it’s bloody hard. The constant physical and mental strain being put on the players, coaches, partners and families gets overseen because, from the outside, it’s all about results and nothing else.
My seven years were like most careers. Lots of ups and downs, injuries, form slumps and self doubt.
Self doubt ruins careers.
You bring a confident and free 18-year-old into the AFL system who is ready to take his career by the scruff of the neck, and unless you have AND utilise the correct resources around you, in the blink of an eye, your on-field personality can go.
You fear failure, you play safe and you’re scared to make mistakes because you think you need to be perfect.
Unfortunately, I only realised this in my last season.
My seventh year, a year spent all in the VFL — besides one game — and the year of my delisting, was my most enjoyable year.
I built so many better relationships, on and off the field. I learnt more about myself and what makes me tick, and I managed to play my best year of consistent football.
Finishing off the year with a VFL premiership medallion would have been great, but the program was about the year as a whole, not the disappointing final two hours at the end of a very successful season.
What also came from a year in VFL was my silver lining. I found a huge passion for coaching, which if I played in the AFL team, I daresay I would not have found.
From that, I am now the defensive coach at the Frankston Dolphins who have rejoined the VFL. I’ll also be pulling on the boots.
I get unbelievable satisfaction about helping other people achieve what they want, and with this role I feel I can contribute in helping others.
Although I no doubt would love to still be in the AFL system, I’m looking forward to my new life in Frankston, with family and friends.
Grand Final day was great, even thought I didn’t take part.
I went through a whole host of emotions. Nervous, excited and disbelief come to mind, but the one that I can still feel to this day when I look back, is pure happiness.
No anger, no jealousy. Pure happiness.
I’m smiling as I write this while thinking about that remarkable day.
People ask me what it was like to be there last year but not actually be part of it.
My response is that although 22 blokes played, 100+ people contributed to the club’s success, and that’s why I’m looking forward to watching another great year in 2018.