Kickin' with Klatt: The One the Day After

I've now had a day to sit back and reflect on the big day. To first go over it a bit, I'll say that it was a really fun time and a great experience. The morning session was all fitness testing. I was middle of the pack (of about 50 girls) for all of them, as I expected, although my 20m sprint was on the better end. So those results were no surprise to me. 

After lunch and an interview with yet another media platform came the skills session. This was what I knew would make or break it for me. I was feeling good about my new one-handed drop, so I decided to go for it and use it. That was a great decision. My kick rocked!!! There's still lots of room for improvement, and I plan on continuing Kick Builders ounce I'm back. But wow, it truly amazed me that after 4 weeks of working the program, that I was comfortable enough to use an entirely new style of kicking at this event. 

At the end of the day, the big surprise came when I was named as one of the 5 standout players of the day. They were impressed with how much my kicking form had improved, having seen my old two-handed drop via video. They also noted that I was a loud voice on the field (which has been drilled into me since day one of playing!) and had a good field sense. All very exciting to hear. I got a sweet prize pack too, with a compression shirt and pants, Gatorade gear, a free Athlete Development Program through kb performance, and a women's Sherrin. Fun fact, I own three footballs, and I haven't had to buy a single one - I have won all of them! 

The AFL crew who ran the event (Daisy, Jan, Libby, etc) could not have been more welcoming and supportive. What made the event so amazing was the effort they put into it, and their willingness to welcome international players into their game. Not only that, they were willing to speak candidly with me about what I could realistically expect going forward, as I am in a unique situation. 

Now that it's the day after, I've had some time to reflect on everything. What it comes down to now is making a decision. 

First things first, nothing can go further until I move to Australia. In order to do that, I would need to find a job, and have my nursing license transferred. That in itself will take a few months. From there, it's a matter of finding a local club I could play with. We are all still waiting to hear who is invited to join the academy program, but for me that may be a different scenario. They invite you back to a certain academy based on your location - for me, I would need a location first. So I am wondering if I will even be invited back, or if I will need to wait and have moved somewhere before that can happen. I guess I will find out! 

To be honest, I am now a bit overwhelmed at the options I have in front of me. There is no guarantee that I will get into the academy. If I do, there is still no guarantee that I will be drafted to play AFL level next year. I am obviously not at AFL level yet - not even close. If anything, this event showed me that I have the potential to get there if I work hard enough at it, and have the opportunity to train with a higher caliber of players. But even then, if I do all that, what if I'm still not good enough? What if I uproot my entire life to move here to give myself those training opportunities, and I still can't make it to that level? 

To make matters more confusing, all this media attention has added more pressure. The attention has been great for American footy and women's footy, don't get me wrong. More friends and strangers than I can count have contacted me in the past few weeks to find out what this is all about. We may have some new USAFL women's footy players this year! But for me personally, the attention has been really hard for me. I felt a lot of pressure to perform well. Even now, I feel the weight of it as I try to make this life decision. If I decide not to change my entire life for a sport, will I seem scared, or be letting people down, or will I regret passing up this once in a lifetime opportunity? If I don't make the academy, will I seem like a fraud? If I do move and do everything but don't make it to that highest level, will people laugh at me because I wasn't good enough? I know I shouldn't give a flying f*** what people think, but I'm not used to all the attention and I seem to think these thoughts anyways. But I need to get it out of my head so I can make the decision that is best for me. 

Not to put a damper on this event though. Truly, everyone I have interacted with through the AFL have been absolutely amazing. They are encouraging and realistic about my expectations, which I appreciate, as I have such a big decision to make. This trip has been more than worthwhile; I met amazing people, learned a lot about the state of women's footy in Australia, and learned a lot I can take home to benefit American footy. It would truly be an amazing experience to be able to come play footy here at any level, and I would be thrilled to do it. I'm willing to work hard because I love this game. Not only that, I love this country and these people! Tonight, I was able to attend a NSW academy session while I was still in town. The coaches and the girls were so welcoming and enthusiastic. The drills were faster paced and more intense than anything I usually get in the States, and I loved it! I would love to get that kind of training and be around these people on a regular basis. 

Now I just have to make my decision - do I uproot my entire life and move to Australia?! Luckily, I have a vacation coming up - I will be heading to China and Cambodia soon. I plan to fly under the footy radar during that time, which I'll admit I'm looking forward to. Stay tuned, for my next blog post, (after this much needed vacation) I'll hopefully have muddled through all this and be closer to a decision! 

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