NINA JOINS THE CATS

Current student and School Captain Nina Morrison was drafted with Pick 1 by the Geelong Cats at this year's AFLW Draft on Tuesday 23 October, becoming the first Geelong Grammar School student to be part of AFLW. Nina, who only played football competitively for the first time two years ago, had an incredible season and collected just about every major award in underage women's footy in 2018. Nina was named co-MVP of the Under 18 National Championships alongside Maddy Prespakis, who was taken with Pick 3 by Carlton and with whom Nina also shared the TAC Cup league best and fairest award this season.

Nina spent the year juggling Year 12 studies and her duties as School Captain with APS Tennis and Soccer as well as football commitments with the Geelong Falcons and, later, with the Geelong Cats VFLW team. "It's pretty busy... but it's been good to have that balance between school work and sporting commitments," Nina said. To be drafted to the Cats and to be based at a sporting precinct she knows so well is a huge thrill for Nina. "It's really exciting... I know my way around the place at this point," Nina told the RSN Breakfast Club when asked how she felt about being drafted by her home club.

While Nina hadn't played competitively until 2017, growing up with two brothers (Fergus (A'14) and Harry (A'16)) meant she had been involved in plenty of kick-to-kick in the backyard and has previously tried her hand at a variety of sports. Nina believes that her experience playing soccer and tennis, as well as her background in athletics, has helped her transition to playing Aussie Rules. "You can always bring things across from other sports, whether that's game sense or general fitness," Nina said. Geelong are a new addition to the AFLW competition in 2019 and with that comes a bit of added pressure for the club's top draft picks to perform from the outset. When asked about her hopes and expectations for this season and beyond, Nina responded like a seasoned pro. "I'm not looking too far ahead," Nina said, fending away the tough questions with a straight bat, even dropping the oldest of old adages - "taking it one step at a time" - to punctuate her response.

The AFLW draft doesn't follow the same script as the AFL equivalent. Due to potential AFLW players having the ability to nominate their draft zone of choice - be it New South Wales, Queensland or Victoria, or one of three zones within Victoria - the majority of players drafted on Tuesday had a pretty good idea of where they were going to end up, it was just a matter of with which pick they would be taken. Nina had long been touted as a potential Pick 1 at this year's draft and, once she nominated the Geelong region earlier this month, it seemed merely a formality that she would be taken with one of Geelong's first two picks (Picks 1 and 2) at the draft. At that point, Geelong had a decision to make. With Nina nominating Geelong, the Cats could conceivably draft her with a later pick in the draft knowing that no other club could take her, and use Picks 1 and 2 to draft other talent. Cheeky, yes, but within the rules. Geelong, however, drafted in the spirit of the competition and took Nina with their first pick, as much to reward her for the incredible season she has had as for any moral reason. Nina was honoured to be taken with Pick 1, but was quick to point out that the nature of the draft creates multiple top picks. "I think it's important to recognise that, with all the different regions and states you could nominate, there's effectively quite a few girls going at Pick 1 for their region." 

Former Hawthorn and Carlton player Daniel Harford, now co-host of the RSN Breakfast Club and coach of Carlton's AFLW team, was effusive in his praise of Nina. "She's an outstanding athlete and a great footballer," Harford said. "She's going to be a star for the Cats." 

Before her AFLW career starts, Nina's attention and that of this year's 2018 cohort turns to the exam period, which begins for VCE students next Wednesday (31 October) and IB students next Monday (29 October).