A Bendigo teenager who didn't play her first game of footy until January this year headlines the Bendigo Pioneers' AFLW Draft hopefuls.
Emily Everist is a strong chance to hear her name called at Wednesday night's AFLW Draft.
Octavia Di Donato, Drew Ryan, Tegan Williams, Scarlett Orritt and Maddie Marks are other Pioneers' players who have garnered interest from AFLW clubs.
A former Victorian junior soccer and futsal representative, Everist had a sensational first season for the Pioneers which led to representing Victoria Country at the national championships and playing VFLW for Essendon.
"Octavia (Di Donato) and I were going for a kick at Strathfieldsaye during pre-season in October and she asked if she could bring a friend along,'' Pioneers' coach Danny O'Bree said.
"It turned out to be Emily. After I left Strathfieldsaye that day I messaged Octavia and asked "have you got any more friends like that? You could see that she had something about her.
"She was an elite junior soccer player, so the high performance side of things wasn't an issue for her. She had a great work ethic and trained as hard as any player in our program.
"She had to learn to play our game, but it was pretty awesome to watch.
"In her second game we played her on Amber Clarke, who is probably going to be drafted into the top two or three selections, and she held her significantly. Amber had no impact on the game.
"In her third game she played on Paige Scott, who is an awesome player and will be drafted in the top 10 most likely, and she had minimal impact.
"Everything has been brand new to her, but she's handled it so well."
Everist spent most of the NAB League season as a defender, but also had stints on the wing and as a forward.
"At every level she's played this year she's fitted in, which is a credit to her,'' O'Bree said.
"Her best quality is that she's so humble."
Ironically, her great mate Di Donato, who invited Everist for a kick of the footy, is also in contention to be drafted on Wednesday night.
"Very few girls have worked as hard as Octavia,'' O'Bree said.
"She really deserves an opportunity at the next level.
"She probably had a little quieter season this year compared to last year, but she still averaged more than 20 touches and her use of the ball is as good as any player in the draft.
"She has the AFLW qualities."
O'Bree said it would be no surprise to see Ryan, Williams, Orritt or Marks drafted as well.
"Drew Ryan and Tegan Williams played for Vic Country and played VFLW, and Maddie Marks played VFLW for the Bulldogs,'' he said.
"Scarlett Orritt also played VFLW and I thought she was extremely stiff to miss out on playing in the national titles.
"There's 668 girls in the draft, so it's going to be competitive, but our players have performed well this year at the highest level that's afforded to them.
"They've got to be in the mix."
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