ON THE eve of the 2021 draft, many players are sitting nervous, waiting for their name to be called out to get the opportunity to join an AFLW club.
Stawell's Isabella Simmons knows the feeling all too well - and can't believe it's been just over six months since she was sitting in that same position.
Despite there being less pressure around the draft, Simmons said she was just as excited for the players who are hoping to one day become her teammates, and competition.
"It's a weird feeling - I'm just so excited but there's not as much pressure," she said.
"It's been motivating in a way. These girls are getting picked up and it's made me want to train harder and be a role model for them that they've come through the same pathway as I have."
Simmons played with the Casey Demons VFL side in 2021, a team aligned with the Melbourne Football Club.
"Last season I did all the training sessions and worked really hard," Simmons said.
"I didn't get to play an AFLW game but I did get to play VFL.
"I'm looking forward to another preseason and feeling like I'm much more prepared for everything right across the board.
"I want to work on my execution speed. Just reacting quicker and making those decisions much faster. I know what I really want to work on and who I need to ask for help with that.
"I feel like I need to up everything a little bit more. Last year I felt there was some leniency because we were first-year players. I just want to get the most out of every session and coming away with improvements."
Simmons moved to Melbourne after the 2020 draft and stayed with a hosting family who helped her find her feet in the big city.
"Training was pretty close to where they lived so I could just walk there," she said.
"They were so lovely. After the season finished, I was living with a housemate but with COVID-19 and lockdowns, I came back home and have spent some time with my family.
"I was working casually as well but wasn't getting any shifts because of lockdown."
Simmons said a number of her teammates had headed back to their family home due to the impacts of lockdown.
"I've been in touch with my coach Mick (Stinear) and he was more than happy for me to go home and refresh and spend some time with family," she said.
"We'll go back for preseason and start again. The club has sent me workout programs and running sessions.
"I'm lucky I live out of Stawell so have plenty of opportunities to get out during lockdown and make sure I'm ticking all the boxes.
"I've been doing some training with my brother Jack as well - that's been fun."
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