After finishing her AFLW career with the Western Bulldogs in 2017, Lauren Morecroft was a playing-assistant coach at Essendon VFLW. Since then, she’s joined the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos as an assistant ahead of their debut season. She spoke to AFLPlayers.com.au at the launch of the AFL Coaches’ Association’s Lucky Chicken Eggs Women’s Coaching Crusade about her coaching career, aspirations and biggest challenges.
You’ve been involved with football for a significant period of time. Was coaching always the goal for you post your football career?
Yeah, I did quite a bit of basketball coaching so I guess it was always in the back of my mind. Being a teacher as well, I’ve got a skillset that can transfer to coaching, so exiting the game it was at the forefront of my mind but how I went about it was the next stage for me.
What did the pathway into coaching look like for you and how did you land your role as an assistant at North Melbourne?
I’m going through level two (coaching certificate) at the moment and last season I was also a playing-assistant at Essendon in the VFLW which was probably the first taste of senior coaching. I’ve been building on that into AFLW and then I’ll be the senior assistant at Melbourne University this year for the VFLW. Scotty Gowans coached me at Diamond Creek in 2017 and I think he knew me after playing under him that I’ve got a fair education mindset and that I’m always questioning things and wanting to learn so he came to me. Also, North Melbourne being really dynamic and wanting females in their space in coaching and admin roles. He asked me if I wanted to be an assistant and it was an opportunity too good to say no to in this era.
You mentioned your teaching career earlier. How does being a teacher and having an educational and developmental background assist you in your coaching career?
I already have the skillset of being able to communicate well, plan sessions and trainings and have people management skills so it is quite transferrable to coaching. The education side of things, and my want to learn, is already an appetite I have and wanting to improve my coaching. That learning curve of improving is really steep for me, and we all know that in the industry that it’s hard, but having that education background definitely complements the learning for me.
The Lucky Chickens Egg Women’s Coaching Crusade program focusses on upskilling it’s participants to be well-equipped when they enter their coaching career. What actions are you taking to upskill yourself as you progress through your coaching career?
I’ve got a couple of coaching mentors that I turn to for advice, and in different sports as well, which gives me a bit more experience in different levels of thinking. Then just reading, learning and watching as much as I can. That learning appetite really is going to hold me in good stead.
Who stands out as a really important mentor for you and someone who has helped you develop?
I’ve got a really good mentor that I developed through the AFL Victoria program She Can Coach, Kristy Keppich-Birrell, who was Collingwood’s coach in the Super Netball league. She’s my go-to in terms of levels of experience but also in making sure I am developing in the right way. She really challenges my thinking and sets goals for me, which I need. It’s also really motivating to listen to her stories and experiences and also learn from them as well. She’s been really vital at the moment, probably in the last 12 months in particular.
Who are the players you’ve come across that you think would have the skills to explore a coaching career post-football?
I think Emma Kearney without a doubt, who has a teaching background as well. With her leadership qualities I’ve seen so far, and having played alongside her, I think she’s got the right skills. Her leadership has gone to another level at North Melbourne and I think she would definitely look towards a coaching pathway post her career. Jamie Stanton, who I coach in the midfield at North, is always questioning, learning and really wanting to get the most out of her career.
We always hear the phrase ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ in reference to women’s football. How important is this initiative for aspiring female coaches?
I think it’s going to be really crucial to at least give the opportunity for players to see something to aspire to, and that’s us in club level. Also giving them a scholarship to aspire to might just push them further, so I think that’s really key. If there are more programs and scholarship opportunities, players will jump at it. You’ve just got to offer it. I see it definitely increasing.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your transition to coaching?
I think there are players at North Melbourne that I’ve played with as well and am now coaching directly so I’ve got to ensure that relationships are really strong and ensuring that I’m able to give positive and constructive feedback and not shying away from those opportunities. It was a bit testing there and I was wondering how it was going to go but you back your skills and relationships.
Thanks LJ for the chat and good luck with the upcoming season!
No worries, thank you Kavisha.
You can find out more about the Lucky Chicken Eggs Women’s Coaching Crusade here.