On Wednesday at the NAB AFL Women's Draft, Isabel Huntington was selected by the Western Bulldogs with the coveted number one draft pick.
Wind the clock back to almost 18 months ago, Huntington set the MCG alight with a five-goal performance for Vic Metro in the 2016 National Youth Girls Grand Final. Her performance that night rubber-stamped her return to form after a missing much of the previous 2015 season with a spiral fracture in her leg.
Her 2016 form and successful Youth Girls carnival was rewarded with selection in the Youth Girls All-Australian squad and the opportunity to play in the curtain-raiser of the 2016 exhibition match at Whitten Oval. Unfortunately, the injury curse struck again with Huntington rupturing her ACL in that game.
A long-term injury during the final year of Under 18s football and missing out on the opportunity to further impress AFLW recruiters would be enough to rattle even seasoned footballers. Not so with Huntington. Wise beyond her years, ‘Izzy’ took the setback in her stride and instead got to work on her rehab while completing her Year 12 studies.
“It was a long time to be out of the game. But it went pretty quickly honestly and to be here now is just super exciting.” Huntington said on AFLW Draft Day.
“They (the nerves) were sort of building a little bit, but the excitement was building as well. I’ve been waiting for this day for a very long time and it’s finally here today. I found out last night that I’d be going to the Doggies so it’s been a pretty exciting few days.” she added.
Stepping into an AFL club can be a daunting prospect for any new player, but through her Melbourne Uni connection, Huntington will have plenty of familiar faces at the Western Bulldogs. Not only will Huntington be joining the likes of Ellie Blackburn, Emma Kearney and Lauren Spark (all Melbourne Uni recruits), but fellow Bulldogs draftee Monique Conti has also represented the Mugars.
“It’s brilliant, I think there are about eight Mugars players at the Doggies now. So, to have Mon (Conti) joining, she’s such a fantastic player and a great person and I can’t wait to work with her along with all of the Mugars and then all of the other teammates that I know and do not know at this stage. I can’t wait to meet them all.”
Before her AFLW pre-season begins however, Huntington has some bigger fish to fry.
“I’ve got my VCE exams coming up in two weeks. So, get through them and hopefully they all go well and take it one step at a time from there.”
If the last 12 months are any indication, Huntington is sure to take the next chapter in her stride.
PHOTO: AFL Photos