27 October, 2020 Sport & Outdoor Ed

St Michael’s star footballer Winnie selected by Carlton

St Michael’s Football Captain, Winnie, dreamed of playing AFLW alongside her heroes. Earlier this month, that dream became a reality when she was drafted to the Carlton Football Club.

As soon as Winnie (12K) watched Carlton play Geelong at her first live AFLW game several years ago, she knew that she wanted to be out there playing too.

The powerful midfielder has a sporting background in basketball and athletics, but in recent years found her place on the football field.

I love the competitiveness and the hard work you have to put in, and the culture in a footy team is unlike anything else. I love the environment where everyone has the same goal, and everyone has your back.Winnie (12K)
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    Winnie having fun with her teammates
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    Winnie in our 125th anniversary heritage uniform

Growing up, Winnie was a Richmond fan, however in recent years has grown a soft spot for Carlton, due to star player Patrick Cripps becoming her favourite player in the league. Then, when Winnie saw the Carlton AFLW team play live, Carlton became her favourite club in the Women’s league.

Being selected by your club of choice is rare for any prospective draftee, so Winnie is understandably thrilled to begin playing alongside her heroes.

My favourite AFLW players are from Carlton, such as Katie Loynes and Maddy Prespakis, so I’m very lucky I have ended up there.Winnie (12K)

With a few leadership positions under her belt, Carlton are already speculating if Winnie will become ‘Katie Loynes 2.0’. In 2020, Winnie was named Club Captain of Sandringham Dragons and Captain of St Michael’s Girls side. Six of her Sandringham teammates were also drafted to the AFLW with one of them, Daisy Walker, joining her at Carlton.

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    Winnie playing in the 2019 ACS season
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In 2020, the AFLW Draft process was completely virtual. The Draft Combine occurred over a weekend, which included submitting a time for a 2km time trial and taking part in virtual interviews with each of the interested clubs. One week later, the Draft was streamed online, and Winnie watched nervously at home with her family. “It was pretty nerve-racking to watch, but also super exciting.” The very next day, Winnie was already participating in interviews and meetings with Carlton.

Everyone at Carlton, from the coaches to the players, are so welcoming. I already feel at home. Everyone is so talented and it’s such a humbling experience to be a part of.

The following week, Winnie took part in her first training session with the team. To adhere to current restrictions, the club places players in groups of ten to participate in “pre-pre-season” training, in areas such as skills and strength. In early November, the pre-season officially kicks off ahead of the AFLW season in early 2021. On the upcoming training schedule, Winnie said “it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun.”

Winnie has a lot to look forward to. She’s very excited to be a part of Carlton Football Club, to form new connections, and to become the “best player and person I can be,” under the guidance of her new coaches, managers and their “top notch” resources. She hopes to have a “good pre-season, a successful 2021 for the blue baggers, and hopefully to play a few games too!”

More than anything, Winnie is excited to be a part of the rapidly expanding AFLW movement.

The thing that excites me most is how fast Girls footy is growing, even from a few years ago. We don’t really know what footy will look like for us in a few years, and I think that’s the most exciting part.